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Beyond Compliance: How CHRO Sexual Harassment Training Makes Your Workplace Stronger

Sanju Kumari
30 May 2024
19 min read
Beyond Compliance: How CHRO Sexual Harassment Training Makes Your Workplace Stronger

In Connecticut, sexual harassment is pervasive. In an interview published by NBCC, Tanya Hughes, executive director of the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, said, “Sexual harassment is a problem that permeates across society. Across all jobs, across all titles, across all professions.” 

Her observation is not wrong, with statistics conveying something similar. In 2019, the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) reported a record high of over 260 sexual harassment complaints. It represents the highest number in the agency's nearly 80-year history. 

This created the need for a strong government response, which came by passing a legislature that required the provision of sexual harassment training to the employees of an organization. Popularly known as, CHRO sexual harassment training, it is now mandatory for employers with more than 3 employees to compulsorily organize these training sessions. Let’s study and understand all the key provisions in detail. 

What Constitutes Sexual Harassment in Connecticut?

In Connecticut, sexual harassment is illegal and is prohibited by 

  • THE CONNECTICUT DISCRIMINATION EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES ACT (Section 46a-60(a)(8) of the Connecticut General Statutes) 

and

  • TITLE VII OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1964 (Title 42 United States Code Section 2000e et seq.)

This law comprehensively defines sexual harassment in the workplace, which includes a range of behaviors and circumstances. Let’s understand the different forms of sexual harassment as defined under the statute:

  • Unwelcome sexual advances (including both physical and verbal actions)
  • Requests for sexual favors
  • Conduct of a sexual nature
  • Conditions where submitting to sexual behavior is made a condition for employment
  • Employee’s response to sexual harassment affects:
  • Hiring
  • Firing
  • Promotions
  • Other employment decisions
  • Conduct of a sexual nature that substantially interferes with an individual's work performance
  • Behavior that makes the workplace intimidating or hostile

What is CHRO sexual harassment training?

The CHRO (Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities) Sexual Harassment Prevention Training is a mandatory training or educational program in Connecticut. This training is aimed at preventing sexual harassment in the workplace. Through it, CHRO ensures that all employees are well-informed about:

  • What constitutes sexual harassment?

and

  • How to handle and prevent it?

What is the purpose of CHRO sexual harassment training?

The training is specifically designed to educate employees about:

Additionally, this training ensures that organizations comply with Connecticut’s legal requirements regarding sexual harassment prevention. Failure to provide this training usually results in legal consequences for employers.

Which employers are required to deliver the CHRO sexual harassment training?

It is pertinent to note that the applicability and rules related to the delivery of CHRO sexual harassment training vary with the number and nature of employees working in an organization. Let’s understand the different requirements:

  • Employers with 3 or more employees
  • These employers must provide two hours of sexual harassment prevention training to all employees
  • New employees must receive this training within six months of their start date
  • Employers with fewer than 3 employees
  • These employers must ensure that all supervisory employees receive two hours of sexual harassment prevention training. 
  • New supervisory employees must complete this training within six months of their start date.
  • Out-of-State Employers
  • Employers based outside of Connecticut (having employees working in Connecticut) must also comply with these training requirements for their Connecticut-based employees.
  • Check out the blogs on AB 1825 and California SB 1343 to learn more about other types of sexual harassment training.

What is the content and format of the CHRO training?

The training involves watching educational videos that cover various aspects of sexual harassment. To effectively cover all the content, the training must include:

  • Examples
  • Case studies and
  • Best practices for prevention

Also, to make it more interactive and reinforce learning, “interactive quizzes” should be included in the CHRO sexual harassment prevention training. These quizzes ensure that employees comprehend the material and can apply it in real-life situations.

Can employers use their training programs instead of the CHRO video?

Yes, employers in Connecticut have the flexibility to even use their own training programs to comply with the set requirements. For the unaware, The Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) offers a free online training video that satisfies the state's sexual harassment prevention training requirements. This is an easy option for employers to ensure compliance.

However, employers are not obligated to use the CHRO’s training program. They can create or use their own training programs. But this program must meet the state's specified content requirements and cover at least the following elements:

Element I: Definition of Sexual Harassment as Set Forth in Connecticut Law

Sexual harassment is defined under Connecticut law as any of the following:

  • Unwelcome sexual advances
  • Requests for sexual favors and
  • Other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature

This element is already covered in detail in the above section, “What Constitutes Sexual Harassment in Connecticut?”

Element II: Explanation of the Illegality of Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is prohibited by both federal and state laws.

  • Federal Law
  • Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, sexual harassment is considered a form of sex discrimination.
  • It is illegal in any workplace with 15 or more employees.
  • State Law
  • Connecticut law under the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act (CFEPA) also prohibits sexual harassment
  • It provides protections for employees in workplaces with three or more employees.

Employers are legally required to prevent and address sexual harassment in the workplace. Failure to do so results in legal consequences, including fines, penalties, and lawsuits.

Element III: Information on the Remedies Available to Victims of Sexual Harassment

Victims of sexual harassment have several remedies available to them, such as:

  • Internal Reporting
  • Employees can report incidents of harassment to their employer
  • In usual circumstances, the reporting should be through human resources or designated channels within the company.
  • Filing a Complaint
  • Victims can file a complaint with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO). 
  • The CHRO investigates claims of discrimination and harassment
  • After the completion of the investigation, it can take action against employers who violate the law.
  • Legal Action
  • Employees also have the option to file a lawsuit in state or federal court.
  • Remedies in these cases commonly include:
  • Reinstatement to their job if they were terminated.
  • Compensation for lost wages and benefits.
  • Damages for emotional distress and other harm suffered.
  • Punitive damages in cases of particularly egregious conduct.
  • Attorney’s fees and court costs.

In addition to the elements mentioned above, CHRO also provides certain additional guidelines:

  • Regular Updates and Refresher Courses
  • The training may be updated periodically to reflect changes in:
  • Laws
  • Emerging issues, and
  • Best practices
  • Also, employers are encouraged to provide refresher courses to keep employees up-to-date
  • Customization for Specific Industries
  • Depending on the workplace environment, the training should be tailored to address:
  • Specific challenges and
  • Scenarios relevant to different industries
  • This ensures that the training is relevant and effective
  • Confidentiality and Support Systems 
  • The training should also cover the “importance of maintaining confidentiality” in harassment cases
  • It should provide information on support systems available to victims, such as:
  • Counseling services 

and

  • Legal assistance

What are the different training modes for different roles?

The CHRO states that sexual harassment prevention training can be provided in two different modes:

  • Online Training

and

  • In-person Training

The selection of mode depends on the designation or class of employees undertaking the training. Let’s study in detail:

  • Online Training for Non-Supervisory Employees

  • Non-supervisory employees can complete the training online
  • This format is convenient and accessible
  • It allows employees to complete it at their own pace and according to their schedules
  • In-Person Training for Supervisory Employees

  • While online training is available, in-person training is highly recommended for supervisory employees
  • Supervisors play a crucial role in:
  • Enforcing workplace policies 

and

  • Addressing harassment complaints
  • Additionally, in-person training allows for:
  • More interactive and detailed discussions
  • Role-playing scenarios
  • Direct Q&A sessions with trainers
  • This mode of training better prepares supervisors to handle sensitive situations effectively.

What is a CHRO training certificate?

The CHRO training certificate is a formal document. It is provided by the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) to individuals who complete the CHRO's Sexual Harassment Prevention Training program. As discussed above, this training is mandated for all employees in Connecticut to educate them on recognizing and preventing sexual harassment in the workplace.

Let’s see certain key points related to the CHRO training certificate:

  • Purpose
  • The certificate serves as proof that an individual has completed the required two hours of sexual harassment prevention training. 
  • It ensures that both employees and employers comply with Connecticut state law.
  • Completion Requirements
  • To obtain the certificate, individuals must:
  • Complete the entire two-hour training program provided by the CHRO
  • Engage with the training content, which includes:
  • Watching videos 

and

  • Taking quizzes to reinforce understanding
  • Certification Process
  • After finishing the training, individuals can request the certificate using the CHRO Training Certificate Request Form.
  • The certificate is usually issued every other business day.
  • If there are any issues or delays in receiving the certificate, individuals can contact the CHRO at CHRO.Questions@ct.gov

How can you obtain the CHRO training certificate?

Obtaining a CHRO sexual harassment training certificate is a straightforward process. For your easy understanding, we have prepared the following step-by-step guide:

Step I: Access the Training Portal

Step II: Register for the Training

  • Enter your First Name, Last Name, and E-mail Address in the appropriate fields.
  • Click the “Register” button to proceed.

Step III: Review the Initial Video

  • After registering, an introductory video will appear on the screen
  • Watch this video and then scroll down past it.

Step IV: Access Training Materials

  • Click on the “Materials” tab, which you will find on the training page.

Step V: Watch Section 1 Video

  • Under the “Materials” tab, locate and click the “View” button 
  • This button is located next to the “Section 1: Sexual Harassment at Work training Video.”
  • Click on it to open the video in a new tab in your browser.

Step VI: Return to the Previous Tab for Quiz 1

  • After watching the entire Section 1 video, return to the original training tab
  • Here, you can access Quiz 1.

Step VII: Complete Quiz 1

  • Go to the “Tests” tab 
  • Find and complete Quiz 1 related to the Section 1 video

Step VIII: Watch All Sections and Complete All Quizzes

  • Similarly, you will be required to:
  • Watch all six training sections 

and

  • Complete the corresponding quizzes
  • Be aware that the sections and quizzes might not be listed in sequential order
  • So make sure to complete each one.

Step IX: Request Completion Certificate

  • After finishing all sections and quizzes, go back to the “Materials” tab
  • Find the CHRO Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Certificate Request Form.

Step X: Submit the Request Form

  • Complete steps 1–4 of the “request form.”
  • Click the “Submit” button
  • This form is necessary to obtain your completion certificate.
  • Upon successful submission, you will receive a completion certificate from the CHRO via email (usually it takes a business day)

Need all the steps? Download them in PDF form here.

Certain visual aids you will encounter

  • Registration Screen
  • It shows where to enter your personal information and the “Register” button
  • Introductory Video
  • It appears immediately after registration
  • Materials Tab
  • Located on the training page, where you will find the “training videos” and “request form,”
  • Training Videos
  • Access and view these videos by clicking “View” next to each section
  • Tests Tab
  • Do the quizzes you need to complete after watching the video
  • Certificate Request Form
  • Found under the “Materials” tab
  • It must be filled out and submitted to receive your certificate

What are the consequences of non-compliance with the CHRO training requirements?

As a legal requirement, employers in Connecticut must comply with the CHRO sexual harassment prevention training requirements. The CHRO has the authority to inspect an employer's place of business to ensure compliance with the requirements. 

Employers must understand that inspections can occur.

  • If the CHRO executive director reasonably believes that there is a violation, 

or

  • Within 12 months after a complaint has been filed

Also, non-compliance leads to several serious consequences. Let’s have a look at some major ones:

Fines for Failing to Provide Mandatory Training

Fines for Failing to Post Required Information

  • Employers must post and distribute information about the illegality of sexual harassment and the remedies available. 
  • Failure to do so can also result in fines of up to $1,000. 
  • This requirement ensures that all employees are aware of their rights and the resources available to them.

Does CHRO protect an employee who has filed a complaint against their employer?

Yes, CHRO places certain restrictions on employers against whom a valid sexual harassment complaint has been filed. See how:

  • Suppose an employee files a complaint of sexual harassment
  • In that case, the employer cannot alter the employee's terms and conditions of employment (such as work location or schedule) without the employee's written consent.
  • This rule protects employees from:
  • Potential retaliation

or

  • Further harassment after they have made a complaint

What’s the time limit to file complaints?

Employees now have 300 days to file a charge of discriminatory practice with the CHRO, up from the previous 180 days. This extended window gives employees more time to report incidents of sexual harassment.

Conclusion

In Connecticut, sexual harassment is a significant issue that affects all industries and professions. In response, the state has mandated CHRO sexual harassment prevention training for employers, which aims to create a safe and respectful work environment.

This training is required for all employees in companies with three or more employees. New employees must receive training within six months of their start date.

The training covers the definition of sexual harassment, its illegality, and the remedies available to victims. Employers can use the free CHRO training video or their own programs, provided they meet the state's requirements. Failure to do so can result in fines of up to $1,000 per violation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is the duration of CHRO sexual harassment training?

The duration of CHRO sexual harassment training is typically two hours.

2. Is CHRO sexual harassment training mandatory for employees?

Yes, CHRO sexual harassment training is mandatory for employees in Connecticut. Post-completion, employees even receive a “certificate” validating that they have completed the CHRO sexual harassment training.

3. What if an employer fails to deliver CHRO sexual harassment training?

If an employer fails to deliver CHRO sexual harassment training, they may face fines of up to $1,000 per violation.

4. Can employees complain of sexual harassment against their employers?

Yes, employees can complain of sexual harassment against their employers to the CHRO within 300 days. Recently, this limit was increased from the previous 180 days.

5. What is taught in the CHRO sexual harassment training?

The CHRO sexual harassment training covers legal definitions, reporting procedures, and techniques for maintaining a respectful workplace.

Sanju Kumari

Sanju has a wealth of experience and expertise in instructional design, bringing innovative ideas and a fresh perspective to e-learning content development. She is passionate about merging technology and creativity for dynamic e-learning. Her passion for creating engaging and effective learning experiences aligns perfectly with Calibr's commitment to excellence. She also enjoys writing about e-learning trends in the corporate world.