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Senate Majority Leader

Bob Duff

Representing Norwalk & Darien

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Time’s Up Act Wins Judiciary Committee Approval

Senate Democratic Proposal Seeks to Combat Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault

Senate Democratic leadership today hailed the Judiciary Committee’ passage of the Time’s Up Act, (S.B. 132, An Act Combating Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault) a legislative package introduced by Senate Democrats that includes the largest overhaul in modern history of Connecticut’s sexual harassment and sexual assault laws.

“Senate Democrats have made it our mission to declare ‘Time’s Up’ on sexual harassment and sexual assault,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Martin M. Looney (D-New Haven). “We have seen sexual harassment exposed across all types of industries and all levels of government, and have learned the heartbreaking stories of so many victims. Today, marks an important step toward overhauling Connecticut’s sexual harassment and sexual assault laws. I applaud the Judiciary Committee for its approval of the Time’s Up Act, and urge its swift passage in both chambers of the General Assembly.”

“The Time’s Up Act will establish Connecticut a national leader when it comes to stamping out sexual assault and harassment,” said Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-Norwalk). “From Larry Nassar and the US Gymnastics Team to Jerry Sandusky and Penn State Football, well-publicized cases of sexual assault have been committed against minors highlighting a system that failed to protect them. The Time’s Up Act expands the list of mandated reporters of sexual assault committed against minors and enact penalties against those who are mandated reporters and fail to report. From band practice to basketball practice we rely on adults to teach, coach and supervise our kids. We need to be secure in the knowledge that the system is not failing our children.”

The Senate Democrats’ Time’s Up Act reforms Connecticut’s sexual harassment and sexual assault laws and processes to create stronger protections for victims and to increase penalties for offenders by:

  • reforming the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) complaint process
  • strengthening and expanding Connecticut’s mandated reporter laws
  • eliminating statutes of limitation for all felony and Class A misdemeanor sexual assault crimes
  • increasing financial penalties for offenders
  • providing for injunctive relief and punitive damages
  • setting a universal process for investigations of harassment complaints against school administrators, and
  • requiring increased training and education in Connecticut workplaces.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) receives workplace complaints of sexual harassment, and notes that women file more than 80 percent of such complaints. Studies show that around 70 percent to 80 percent of people who experience workplace harassment do not report it. Perhaps this is for good reason, because those who do report general mistreatment at work experience retaliation 75 percent of the time.

During calendar year 2017, the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) processed 4,600 total complaints and received 2,490 new complaints. Of those new complaints, more than two-thirds, over 1,800, were about employment discrimination while 158 were about sexual harassment. The sexual harassment complaints are trending significantly upwards on a year over year basis, with the last three months of 2017 seeing a 37 percent increase in filed complaints over the last quarter of 2016.

The bill ensures employees are better informed of their rights. Under current law, only employers with 50 or more employees must provide training on sexual harassment, and even then only to supervisors. Under the bill, CHRO is authorized to require all employers with three or more employees to provide training to all employees, not only supervisors. The bill will prohibit an employer from taking corrective action that modifies the accuser’s employment conditions, without her or his written consent.

Senate Bill 132 would add licensed and board-certified behavior analysts to the list of professionals required to report child abuse, and this provision is consistent with SB 244, which received bipartisan support from members of the Human Services Committee. Senate Bill 132 also bill removes an exemption from the mandated reporter laws for certain day care facilities.

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