Mae Flexer

State Senator

Mae Flexer

Deputy President Pro Tempore & Federal Relations Liaison

An Advocate for Us

August 24, 2021

On the Day of Cuomo’s Resignation, Sen. Flexer & CHRO Highlight CT Sexual Harassment Laws

HARTFORD – On the day that New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo resigned from office in the face of sexual harassment allegations and Kathy Hochul became the first female governor of New York at the stroke of midnight, Democratic state Senator Mae Flexer and the leadership of Connecticut’s Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities highlighted Connecticut’s strong sexual harassment laws, business training requirements for employees, and where people can turn to for help if they have been sexually harassed on the job.

Sen. Flexer was joined by CHRO Executive Director Tanya Hughes and Deputy Director Cheryl Sharp to detail Connecticut’s sexual harassment laws and remedies.

“I want to make it clear today that we need to uphold sexual harassment prevention standards in all places of work – whether that be a construction site or an office building or a state capitol – and that no person working in Connecticut should ever have to endure what those women in New York State endured under former Governor Cuomo,” Sen. Flexer said. “We’ve worked on a largely bipartisan basis here in Connecticut to enact and update some pretty tough sexual harassment standards over the years, including the 2019 Time’s Up Act, and the public needs to know what they should expect in the workplace and where they can turn if they’re harassed.”

“The CHRO is the Connecticut agency charged with enforcing the state’s antidiscrimination laws, including those that prohibit sexual harassment. The situation with Governor Cuomo in New York demonstrates yet again that sexual harassment is a problem across society, in all types of jobs,” Hughes said. “As Senator Flexer said, Connecticut passed a Time’s Up bill in 2019 which strengthened sexual harassment prevention training requirements and other protections for employees in Connecticut. That year, the CHRO saw the highest number of sexual harassment complaints –260 complaints — filed in its history. So far in 2021, sexual harassment complaint filings are on pace to exceed the 2020 numbers. The numbers make clear the continuing importance of prevention training, making sure every resident of Connecticut understands their rights, and working to make sure our sexual harassment laws are as strong as possible.”

“Anyone who is experiencing sexual harassment, whether it be at work, from a landlord or neighbor, or at a place of public accommodation, can file a discrimination complaint at the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities,” Sharp said. “Information regarding how to file a complaint and which of our four regional offices you should contact can be found on the ‘Contact Us’ page at, or by calling 860-541-3400.”

The first State Constitution in 1818 declared all men equal in rights and guaranteeing freedom of religion, speech, press and assembly. In 1947, the Fair Employment Practices Act was adopted, making it an illegal practice for individuals or employers of five or more persons to discriminate because of race, color, religious creed, national origin or ancestry. It wasn’t until 1980 that sexual harassment was specifically prohibited in employment law.

Sexual harassment is defined in Connecticut as any unwelcome sexual advances or request for sexual favors or any conduct of a sexual nature when: a) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment; b) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual; or c) such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment.

After a series of high-profile sexual assault and harassment charges in sports, Hollywood and politics made the national news in 2017, Connecticut updated its sexual harassment prevention laws with the passage of the June 2019 “Time’s Up” Act (Public Act 19-16).

The new law enhances employer-sponsored training on sexual harassment, extends the statute of limitations applicable to certain personal injury actions involving sexual abuse, sexual exploitation and sexual assault, increase penalties for sexually assaulting a mentally incapacitated person, and eliminates or extends the statute of limitations for the prosecution of sexual assault crimes and certain risk of injury to children offenses.

The bill specifically strengthened Connecticut’s existing sexual harassment prevention training requirements by requiring that employers with three or more employees do the following:

  • Provide to a new employee within three months a copy of information regarding the illegality of sexual harassment and remedies available to victims
  • Provide two hours of training/education to all employees by May 20, 2021
  • Any employee hired on or after October 1, 2019 must receive the training not later than six months after start date
  • Employers with less than three employees must provide two hours of training/education to all existing supervisory employees by May 20, 2021 or within six months to new supervisory employees
  • Any employer required to provide training must provide periodic supplemental training not less than every ten years

The Time’s Up Act also required the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities to develop and make available for free a sexual harassment prevention training video, which can currently be found on its website, and it extended the filing deadline for cases involving employment discrimination to 300 days.

If Human Rights Referees find that a person was sexually harassed, they can be awarded damages necessary to eliminate the harassment and to make them whole, including back pay, attorney’s fees, cease and desist orders, money for emotional distress, punitive damages (if the case is tried in court), and more.