In collaboration with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, state Rep. Liz Linehan of Cheshire (D-Cheshire/Southington/Wallingford) announced she will be submitting a bill in the 2018 legislative session to strengthen Connecticut’s sexual harassment statutes.
The CHRO enforces the state’s anti-discrimination laws and investigates discrimination complaints.
One of the main components of the bill is to increase the length of time a person has to file a sexual complaint from the current 180 days to 300 days.
“The #MeToo movement has forced our society to confront the epidemic of sexual harassment and assault and the many ways in which we fail victims,” Linehan said in a prepared statement. “As someone who was sexually assaulted in the workplace years ago and punished for speaking out, it’s incredibly important to me that we prevent what I went through from happening to others.
“This legislation came out of my own experience, listening to other victims’ stories, and in-depth discussions with the staff at CHRO. These are deficiencies in our current law that they, as an agency that deals with sexual harassment complaints daily, have identified in the course of their work.”
In addition to lengthening the time a victim has to file, other components of the bill include strengthening victims’ rights, including protecting his or her position with a company following an incident of harassment, and their ability to collect damages. The bill would also expand mandatory workplace sexual harassment trainings to more clearly specify what constitutes harassment.
Lengthening the time a victim can file a complaint to 300 days would be more in line to what neighboring states offer according to the prepared statement. The statute of limitations for filing a sexual harassment complaint is 300 days in Massachusetts and one year in both Rhode Island and New York.
“This is an important cultural moment,” CHRO executive director Tanya Hughes said. “Connecticut should not miss this opportunity to strengthen its sexual harassment laws and make them more effective.”.
The legislation will be submitted to the Labor and Judiciary Committees. In even-numbered years, legislators can’t individually introduce legislation, but must ask a legislative committee to raise their bill.
Dan Nowak is chairman of the Cheshire Democratic Town Committee's Communication Relations/IT Committee, a volunteer position. He is a Cheshire Parks and Recreation Commissioner and has been a sportswriter at the New Haven Register for 36 years.