EEOC seeks input on workplace harassment guidance

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Update: Feb. 3, the EEOC announced that it is extending until March 21 the deadline for public input on its proposed enforcement guidance on unlawful workplace harassment.

Members of the public have until Feb. 9 to comment on proposed guidance announced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Tuesday to address unlawful workplace harassment.

The 75-page document explains the legal standards applicable to harassment claims under federal employment discrimination laws. The laws enforced by EEOC protect individuals from harassment based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age or genetic information.

Release of the proposal follows the June issuance of a report by the commission's Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace. That report recommended that employers change training programs aimed at preventing workplace harassment to focus on the culture and needs of their individual workplaces rather than on trying to avoid legal liability.

“This guidance clearly sets forth the commission's positions on harassment law, provides helpful explanatory examples and provides promising practices based on the recommendations in the report,” said Chai R. Feldblum, co-chairwoman of the task force. “I believe it will be a helpful resource for employers and employees alike, and I look forward to receiving comments from the public.”

In fiscal year 2015, the EEOC received 27,893 private-sector charges that included an allegation of harassment, accounting for more than 31% of charges filed that year.

“Harassment remains a serious workplace problem that is the concern of all Americans,” EEOC Chairwoman Jenny R. Yang said. “It is important for employers to understand the actions they can take today to prevent and address harassment in their workplaces.”

After reviewing public input, the commission may revise the guidance before finalizing it.

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