HARTFORD, CT — In an attempt to address issues raised by the #MeToo movement, the Senate Friday morning forwarded to the House legislation that would eliminate time restraints for reporting sex assault crimes and also require companies to give their employees sexual harassment training.
The so-called “Time’s Up” bill, SB 132, passed 31-5 early Friday morning. Sens. John Kissel, Michael McLachlan, Ed Gomes, Joe Markley and Anthony Guglielmo voted against the bill.
The bill, which was brought out at 1:11 a.m., would require a company with more than 20 employees to give all their employees two hours of sexual harassment training. Companies with fewer than 20 employees need to give their employees notice of their sexual harassment policy in person or by email not later than six months after their date of hire.
Any company that doesn’t comply with the training and education component of the legislation will be fined less than one thousand dollars, according to the legislation.
If the legislation passes the House and is signed by the governor, it will then go into effect on Oct. 1, 2018. Companies will have until Oct. 1, 2019, to train their employees.
The legislation also eliminates the statute of limitations for the reporting of all sexual assault crimes and other sexual abuse.
“This is a moment for Connecticut,” Sen. Mae Flexer, D-Killingly, told her colleagues. “It is time for us strengthen our laws.”
Flexer said it is the responsibility of government officials to recognize shifts in thinking and movements going on across the country.
“Connecticut needs to catch up with the rest of the country,” Flexer said. “We are at the bottom of the totem pole, having one of the shortest statute of limitations in the country.”
Acknowledging that the issue of sexual harassment has been ignored, “we do need in many workplaces a cultural change,” Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said.
And even though the language that passed wasn’t as strong as originally drafted, Looney said lengthening the period of time that sexual assault and sexual abuse can be reported was a key component of the bill.
“We need more open ended statutes,” Looney said, who added that workplaces and government “are only beginning to come to grips now” with how pervasive the problem of sexual harassment and abuse really is.
Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, one of five male senators who voted against the bill, said he’s concerned that expanding the statute of limitations will increases costs for the public defender’s office and it wasn’t taken into consideration when the bill was drafted.
Sen. Paul Doyle, D-Wethersfield, who voted in favor, said he doesn’t believe there would be a fiscal impact if it’s not included in the fiscal note.
“How many stories have we heard over the past year, all across America, of women being sexually harassed or assaulted in the workplace? The floodgates have opened, and we are compelled to act,” Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford, said in a press release. “The Time’s Up bill is action — real action — to address the scourge of sexual harassment in American workplaces. We may not end it, but we will reduce it, and here in Connecticut we are sending a message that we take this problem seriously and we will not tolerate it.”