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Changes to Delaware's sexual harassment law coming in 2019

Tom Byrne
Delaware Public Media

The Delaware Discrimination in Employment Act extends protections against sexual harassment and will impact workplaces in the First State starting January 1.

Delaware Department of Labor spokeswoman Jennifer Zeberkiewickz says the new law extends protections to all individuals in all workplaces.

“So not just employees, but applicants, apprentices, staffing agency workers, agricultural workers and unpaid interns as well,” said Zeberkiewickz. “So it is very encompassing of anybody in a workplace.”

Officials note sexual harassment has been illegal in Delaware workplaces for more than two decades. But they say the definition was not spelled out in the law until now.

According to the Department of Labor, examples of sexual harassment include inappropriate touching, conditioning promotions on sexual favors, displaying pornographic images and making sexist remarks.

Zeberkiewickz says harassment complaints can be reported to the DOL’s office of anti-discrimination.

“We perform an investigation and mediate the complaint, and then from there, if we do find something, you can go as far as taking legal actions or we may be able to help you collect lost wages and other damages,” she said.

The law also adds protections against retribution for opposing unlawful discriminatory practices. It is a violation of the law for an employer to retaliate against an employee for filing a harassment claim in good faith.

The law also creates new requirements for employers. Starting January 1, they must provide new employees with the Department of Labor's Sexual Harassment Notice. Workplaces with 50 or more employees must complete an interactive training on sexual harassment by the end of 2019. 

Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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