EEOC Extends Deadline for Public Comment of Proposed Enforcement Guidance on Workplace Harassment
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is seeking public comment on its newly proposed enforcement guidance addressing unlawful workplace harassment under the federal anti-discrimination laws. The initial deadline for employers and other members of the public to submit input regarding the proposed guidance was February 9, but the EEOC recently announced that it was extending the deadline to March 21.
According to the EEOC press release, the publishing of the new proposed guidance stems from the recommendations made last June by the EEOC's Select Task Force on the study of harassment in the workplace. If put into effect, the new guidelines would supersede pre-existing agency guidelines created during the 1990s. The EEOC issued a press release, in which EEOC Commissioner Chai Feldblum was quoted as saying: “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.”
Proposed Enforcement Guidance
The EEOC's proposed enforcement guidance on workplace harassment (linked here) covers numerous topics among its 75 pages. The most notable topics include:
- harassment based on protected characteristics such as race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability, and genetic information;
- establishing causation;
- harassment resulting in discrimination based on a term, condition, or privilege of employment;
- defining hostile work environment claims;
- employer liability standards; and
- systemic harassment.
According to the EEOC, between 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 2015, the EEOC received 27,893 private sector charges that included an allegation of harassment, accounting for more than 31% of the charges filed that year. These trends are one of the reasons the EEOC includes what they call ““promising practices” as part of their guidance. To help employers eliminate workplace harassment the EEOC suggests employers have the following:
- committed and engaged leadership;
- strong and comprehensive harassment policies;
- trusted and accessible complaint procedures; and
- regular and interactive anti-harassment trainings.
Public input may be submitted online here until midnight on March 21, 2017. Members of the public may also send written feedback to: Public Input, EEOC, Executive Officer, 131 M Street, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20507. All input will be posted publicly on www.regulations.gov.
Employment Lawyers with Experience Fighting Discrimination and Harassment
If you feel you have been a victim of discrimination or workplace harassment, or have questions about any of California's employment related laws, feel free to contact leading California employment lawyers at Kingsley & Kingsley. Call toll-free at (888) 500-8469 or contact us via email.