The Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act (CFEPA) prohibits sexual harassment of employees and interns (CT Gen. Stat. Sec. 46a-60). The Act applies to employers of three or more persons. However, all employers, regardless of size, are prohibited from discrimination or harassment of unpaid interns.
Sexual harassment. Sexual harassment means any unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors or any conduct of a sexual nature when (1) submission to or rejection of the conduct is made as a term or condition of an individual's employment, (2) submission to or rejection of the conduct is used as a basis of employment decisions affecting the individual, or (3) the conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment (CT Admin. Code Sec. 46a-54-200 et seq.).
Defenses. Under a standard established by the U.S. Supreme Court, employers generally can avoid liability for a hostile work environment by asserting an affirmative defense. The employer must prove two necessary elements:
1. That it exercised reasonable care to prevent and correct promptly any harassing behavior; and
2. That the employee unreasonably failed to take advantage of any preventive or corrective opportunities provided by the employer or to otherwise avoid harm.
However, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that an employer is not entitled to the affirmative defense simply because its antiharassment policy provides alternative complaint channels that the employee did not use (Gorzynski v. JetBlue Airways Corp., 596 F. 3d 93 (2d Cir. 2010)). The employee in this case alleged that she was sexually harassed by ...