Author: Stephen D. Hans
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has spent considerable researching and analyzing harassment claims related to federal anti-discrimination laws. Such laws protect individuals based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age or genetic information harassment.
According to the Chair of the EEOC, Jenny R. Yang :
“Harassment remains a serious workplace problem that is the concern of all Americans. It is important for employers to understand the actions they can take today to prevent and address harassment in their workplaces.”
The Commission has opened up to the public for input on proposed enforcement guidance.
Harassment Claims on the Rise in the Workplace
Between 2012 and 2015, harassment claims from the private sector increased from slightly more than 25% to 30% to 31% percent of the federal charges filed for 2013, 2014 and 2015 respectively. Dealing effectively with harassment has been an EEOC priority since 2013.
Guidance Based on the Harassment Prevention Report
Employers can benefit from reading about the EEOC’s positions on harassment law. The report gives explanatory examples and recommends practices that companies can implement.
Information Contained in the Report
The report describes the scope of hostile work environment claims. It gives examples so you understand the extent to which harassment can occur outside of the regular place of work and how it can impact the workplace. It covers subjectively and objectively hostile work environments.
It can help you determine whether the harassment is severe or pervasive. A single severe incident of harassment can result in a hostile work environment. Pervasive, which means ongoing actions, can also result in a hostile work environment, and the report provides examples of pervasive harassment.
Numerous best practices actions exist that employers can take. One is conducting anonymous employee surveys on a regular basis to detect whether harassment is occurring. Repeated communication to employees about how the company provides easy access to a complaint system is another example. You can implement practices that protect both yourselves as employers and your employees.
You can download the EEOC Proposed EG on Unlawful Harassment for Public Input and provide your feedback to the EEOC.
Stephen Hans & Associates is an employment litigation firm. We have assisted small and medium sized businesses with employment law issues for more than 20 years.