September 21, 2018

CT publishes new sexual harassment policy; 22% of state workers claim hostile work environment

Connecticut state Capitol in Hartford.

Legislative leaders on Friday published the state's new sexual harassment policy, which aims to improve complaint procedures, enhance investigative responsibilities and create measures to protect victims.

The nine-page policy applies to all state legislators, legislative employees, interns and fellows assigned to the General Assembly. It also covers interactions of state workers outside of the state Capitol at legislative-sponsored events, meetings, seminars and other activities that involve state business.

Under the bipartisan-supported policy, the modernized rules enhance sexual harassment reporting for both formal and informal complaints as the General Assembly works to "eliminate all sexually harassing behavior" at legislative venues.

Several sections define sexually offensive behavior, reporting procedures and other prohibited actions.

"It is the responsibility of each individual who works at the Capitol complex or off-site where legislative business is conducted to maintain a respectful working environment free from sexual harassment, sexually offensive behavior, and retaliation," the policy states.

In a joint statement Friday, legislative leaders, including House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz (D-Berlin) and Senate Republican leader Len Fasano of North Haven, said the updated policy relies on results from a survey the state provided workers during the spring.

According to the survey results, 22 percent, or 131 of 591 state workers said they have experienced a hostile work environment tied to sexual harassment. These events were caused through sexual comments, sexual jokes or stories or other unwelcome interactions, respectively.

Meantime, 17 respondents said they were either offered job-related benefits or were threatened in exchange for any kind of sexual conduct from someone in authority, which is commonly referred as quid pro quo sexual harassment.

More than 29 percent of workers, or 174 or 589, said they have witnessed sexual harassment at the General Assembly.

Almost 30 percent, or 176 of 593 respondents, said they were unaware of the state's current sexual harassment prevention policy. Half of respondents, or 294, said they were not aware of the General Assembly's process in reporting sexual harassment complaints.

A total of 373 of 596 workers said they have attended sexual harassment prevention training at the General Assembly. More than 47 percent, or 277 respondents said the state's sexual harassment prevention and response could be improved.

Connecticut's modernized policy is enacted as the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and sexual assault gains traction nationwide, holding federal and state lawmakers, celebrities and others, accountable for years of alleged abuse.

Read more

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CT lawmakers back new workplace harassment laws


Read the state’s new sexual harassment policy here

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