February 5, 2023

Volume XIII, Number 36

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February 03, 2023

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February 02, 2023

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Delaware Expands Protections Against Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

On August 29, 2018, Delaware Governor John Carney signed into law House Bill 360, expanding sexual harassment protections for workers.

The new law broadens the categories of workers covered by the Delaware Discrimination in Employment Act's sexual harassment provisions to include job applicants, joint employees, apprentices, unpaid interns, individuals who work for employment agencies, and state employees. The law also requires the Delaware Department of Labor to create an informational sheet on sexual harassment that employers will be required to distribute to employees. These portions of the law apply to any employer with four or more employees in Delaware.

Additionally, employers with 50 or more employees in the state must provide interactive sexual harassment training every two years. New employees must be provided training within a year after hire or within a year of being promoted to a supervisory position. Current employees must receive training in 2019.

Significantly, the new statute defines sexual harassment more broadly than the federal standard. Under the Delaware law, sexual harassment is unlawful if challenged conduct "creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment." This language arguably encompasses more behavior than the "severe or pervasive" requirement applicable under federal law and could provide Delaware employees even greater protection.

This law comes as many other states have passed or are considering additional legislation aimed at curtailing sexual harassment in the workplace. For example, with Delaware's action, sexual harassment training now is required in five states: Delaware, New York, California, Maine, and Connecticut, with a similar requirement pending in the Pennsylvania legislature.

Delaware employers should act now to prepare for compliance, as this new law will go into effect in just a few months.

Copyright © by Ballard Spahr LLPNational Law Review, Volume VIII, Number 243

About this Author

Steve Suflas, Ballard Spahr Law Firm, Denver, Labor and Employment Litigation Attorney

Steven W. Suflas is Managing Partner of the Denver and Boulder offices and a nationally recognized thought leader on labor and employment issues. He represents management in all phases of labor and employment matters — from preventative counseling and strategic guidance to collective bargaining, appearances before regulatory agencies, and litigation before courts and administrative agencies. He works closely with employers — both large and small, national, regional, and local — in responding to the daily challenges of the workplace.

Mr. Suflas...

Michelle McGeogh, Ballard Spahr Law Firm, Baltimore, Labor and Employment, Real Estate Litigation Attorney
Of Counsel

Michelle McGeogh has extensive experience in real estate litigation on behalf of property owners, investors, and developers. Michelle is experienced in a diverse range of real estate and commercial litigation, including commercial foreclosures, lender liability and landlord/tenant law. She regularly represents commercial landlords in state court proceedings and bankruptcy proceedings, and has defended landlords from breach of contract, negligence, and fraud claims. Michelle also represents financial institutions and special servicers of mortgage loans in disputes...

Jessica Federico, attorney, Ballard Spahr Law Firm, Minneapolis, MN

Jessica Federico is dedicated to providing advice to employers who are navigating the challenging and ever-changing landscape of employment law. She counsels employers on defense of discrimination claims, wage and hour disputes, employee termination, internal I-9 audits, and filing petitions for employment-based immigrant and non-immigrant visas.

Prior to law school Jessica worked for several legal services providers in the Twin Cities, assisting immigrants in removal of defense, family based immigration, and humanitarian relief.