Each year the new laws passed by the General Assembly generally take effect on October 1. Below are the new laws taking effect today that will affect employers and the workplace.
Wage and Hour Changes
- The minimum wage has increased to $11. As we reported previously, the minimum wage will increase gradually to $15 by June 1, 2023. Beginning January 1, 2024, the minimum wage will be adjusted annually and indexed to the federal “employment cost index” for “wages and salaries for all civilian workers.” The law allows the Labor Commissioner to recommend that increases be suspended after 2 consecutive quarters of negative growth to state GDP.
- Employers may pay a subminimum wage to minors for the first 90 days of employment. Under the new law, employers may pay individuals under 18 (excluding emancipated minors) the sub-minimum wage of the greater of $10.10 per hour or 85% of the minimum wage.
Harassment and Discrimination Law Updates
- All employers must now provide sexual harassment training to supervisors. The new law requires employers to provide training to current supervisors by October 1, 2020 and to all new supervisors within 6 months of assuming the role. If you have trained your supervisors hired on or after October 1, 2018, you do not have to provide training again.
- Employers with 3 or more employees must now provide sexual harassment training to all employees. Covered employers must now provide training to all current employees hired on or after October 1, 2019 within six months of hire.
- Failing to comply with the new sexual harassment training laws will result in consequences for employers. Failure to provide sexual harassment training in accordance with the new law will result in a $750 fine and can be considered a discriminatory practice. Employers should note that the new law requires that you update your training every 10 years.
- Employers must obtain written consent from a complainant in order to take “immediate corrective action” to address the complainant’s claim of sexual harassment. Examples of immediate corrective action under the new law are relocating the complainant, assigning the complainant a different work schedule, and other substantive changes to the complainant’s terms or conditions of employment. There is an exception to this law if the CHRO determines the corrective action was ‘reasonable” and “not harmful.”
- The statute of limitations for all harassment and discrimination claims arising under Connecticut law is now 300 days. The statute of limitations is extended for all claims arising on or after October 1, 2019.
- Employers are now required to give notice to employees regarding the illegality of sexual harassment and the rights available to victims of sexual harassment by e-mail. Notice must be provided within three months of hire if: (1) the employer provides an-email account to the employee, or (2) if the employee has provided the employer with an-email address. Employers must include the words “Sexual Harassment Policy” or “words of similar import” in the subject line. Employers may satisfy this requirement by providing the employee with a link to the section of the CHRO’s website that contains information on the illegality of sexual harassment and the remedies available. Failure to give notice will also result in a $750 fine.
- The available remedies at the CHRO have been expanded. The CHRO may now: (1) “make the complainant whole” by determining the actual damages suffered, including awarding actual costs incurred and (2) award reasonable attorney’s fees to a prevailing complainant. The law explicitly states that the amount of attorney’s fees cannot be contingent upon the damages requested by or award to the Complainant.
- Courts may award punitive damages. This change addresses the Connecticut Supreme Court’s decision in Tomick v. United Parcel Service, Inc. et al. which held that the punitive damages were not available under CFEPA because the law did not expressly state punitive damages were an available remedy.
- The CHRO may now appoint magistrates to conduct public hearings when there is a backlog of more than 100 cases. Magistrates will be selected from a list maintained by the Chief Administrator of the Connecticut Superior Court. You can access that list here.
- Limited discovery will now be available at public hearings. Parties will now have the opportunity to “inspect and copy relevant and material records, papers, and documents” of the other party. The presiding officer may also order production of documents.
- The CHRO may now assign legal counsel to pursue action in court rather than conducting a public hearing. If the CHRO is successful in establishing its claim by “clear and convincing evidence” a court may award the CHRO’s costs and legal fees and civil penalties up to $10,000.
- The CHRO may now enter an employer’s business premises during business hours to ensure compliance with the posting requirements and to inspect all records, policies, procedures and training materials. The CHRO’s authority is limited to situation where its Executive Director reasonably believes the employer is violating the law or during the 12-month period following the date on which a complaint was filed against the employer. If the employer’s place of business is a residential home, the homeowner must give the CHRO express permission.
Please let us know if you have any questions about the new training requirements or any of the other changes to the law.