On Jan. 10, 2017, the EEOC announced that it has voted to release for public input proposed enforcement guidance addressing unlawful harassment under the federal employment discrimination laws.
The proposed Enforcement Guidance on Unlawful Harassment is available for input until Feb. 9, 2017.
This guidance 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.
Harassment Charges Up
Between fiscal 2012 and 2015, the percentage of private-sector charges that included an allegation of harassment increased from slightly more than one-quarter of all charges annually to over 30% of all charges.
In fiscal 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.
In the same year, federal employees filed 6,741 complaints alleging harassment—approximately 44% of complaints filed by federal employees that year.
“Harassment remains a serious workplace problem that is the concern of all Americans,” says Chair Jenny R. Yang.
“It is important for employers to understand the actions they can take today to prevent and address harassment in their workplaces.
"The Commission looks forward to hearing public input on the proposed enforcement guidance.”
Preventing systemic harassment has been one of EEOC’s national enforcement priorities since 2013.
The Commission reaffirmed this priority in its Strategic Enforcement Plan for 2017-2021.
At a public meeting in January 2015, the EEOC established a Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace to analyze workplace harassment and identify innovative and creative prevention strategies.
Chaired by Commissioners Chai R. Feldblum and Victoria A. Lipnic and comprised of academic experts, legal practitioners from the plaintiff and defense sides, employers, employee advocacy groups, and organized labor, the Select Task Force met 10 times between April 2015 and June 2016 to hear and consider testimony and public comments.
At a June 2016 public meeting, Commissioners Feldblum and Lipnic presented their Report of the Co-Chairs of the Select Task Force on Harassment in the Workplace (“Harassment Prevention Report”) with findings and recommendations about harassment prevention strategies.
“I am pleased that we are able to follow up on the recommendations in our Harassment Prevention Report with this release of the draft enforcement guidance on unlawful harassment,” says Feldblum.
“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.
"I believe it will be a helpful resource for employers and employees alike, and I look forward to receiving comments from the public.”
The public is invited to submit input about the proposed Enforcement Guidance on Unlawful Harassment electronically or by mail to: Public Input, EEOC, Executive Officer, 131 M Street, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20507.
Please provide comments in narrative form and do not submit redlined versions of the guidance document.
Input will be posted publicly at regulations.gov, so please do not include personal information that you do not want made public, such as your home address or telephone number.
After reviewing the public input, the Commission will consider appropriate revisions to the proposed guidance before finalizing it.
Register now for CBIA's Sexual Harassment Prevention Training, Mar. 2 in Middletown.