The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has proposed new guidance for employers on how it enforces laws that prohibit workplace harassment.
The proposed guidance, published on Oct. 2 in the Federal Register, outlines the legal standards for harassment claims under laws enforced by the agency. It provides updated examples to reflect a wide range of scenarios, incorporates current case law on workplace harassment, and addresses the proliferation of digital technology and how social media postings and other online content can contribute to a hostile work environment.
The agency invites the public to comment on the proposed guidance. Members of the public have until Nov. 1 to send in their reactions.
"Preventing and addressing harassment in America's workplaces has long been a key priority for the EEOC, and this guidance will provide clarity on new developments in the law and build on the Commission's previous work," EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows said in a statement. "The Commission looks forward to receiving public input on the proposed enforcement guidance."
SHRM Online has gathered additional news on this subject.
EEOC Guidance Shields LGBTQ+ Workers, Abortion Choice
The EEOC's proposed harassment guidance protects LGBTQ+ employees' rights in the workplace and clarifies the agency's views that anti-bias laws cover employees' abortion-related decisions. In 2017, the commission unanimously approved an earlier version of the guidance, but it was reportedly held up by the Trump administration due to internal disagreements over LGBTQ+ worker protections.
Examples of Workplace Harassment
Offensive conduct may include, but is not limited to, offensive jokes, slurs, epithets or name calling, physical assaults or threats, intimidation, ridicule or mockery, insults or put-downs, offensive objects or pictures, and interference with work performance.
Preventing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Employers should have robust policies prohibiting sexual and gender-based harassment, with clear examples of the types of prohibited behaviors. Legal experts say that organizations should reinforce their anti-harassment policy, outline strategies to prevent harassment and other abusive conduct, and take additional actions to mitigate harassment at work.
Sexual Harassment Charges Rose in 2022
Federal data shows that 24,430 charges of harassment were filed with the EEOC in 2022—the highest total in a single year since 2019.