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New EEOC Guidance on Workplace Harassment

 Posted on October 25, 2023 in Employment Lawyer


The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) plays a vital role in promoting workplace equality and addressing issues related to discrimination and harassment. Recently, the EEOC published its proposed Enforcement Guidance on Harassment in the Workplace. This is the first significant update to the EEOC's guidance on workplace harassment since 1999, and it reflects the changing landscape of work and the growing understanding of harassment in all its forms. The following is a brief overview of the proposed changes and additions to the current guidelines. According to the EEOC’s announcement, the agency will be taking public comments on its proposals until November 1. For more detailed information, contact an Illinois employment lawyer

What Constitutes Harassment?

The proposed guidance clarifies that harassment can be based on a wide range of protected characteristics, including race, color, religion, sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity), national origin, age, disability, and genetic information. It also clarifies that harassment can take many forms, including verbal, physical, and nonverbal conduct, as well as conduct directed at an individual or a group of individuals.

What Constitutes a Hostile Work Environment?

The EEOC’s proposed guidance also reaffirms that a hostile work environment exists when the harassment is severe or pervasive to create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. It also clarifies that harassment can create a hostile work environment even if it is not directed at the individual who complains about it.

Employer Liability for Harassment

The proposed guidance also states that employers can be liable for harassment by their employees, supervisors, and non-employees, such as customers, vendors, and contractors. Employers can also be liable for harassment that occurs outside of the workplace, such as on social media or at work-related events.

Expanded Coverage of Sexual Harassment

The proposed guidance clarifies that sexual harassment includes harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It also clarifies that harassment can be based on an individual's gender presentation that is not stereotypically associated with that person's gender assigned at birth.

Recognition of the Impact of Technology on Harassment

The EEOC’s proposed guidance acknowledges that harassment can occur through technology, such as email, instant messaging, social media, and videoconferencing. It also clarifies that employers can be liable for harassment that occurs through technology, even if it occurs outside the workplace.

Guidance on Preventing and Responding to Harassment

The proposed guidance provides employers with guidance on preventing and responding to harassment. This guidance includes recommendations for developing and implementing anti-harassment policies and procedures, training employees on harassment, and conducting prompt and thorough investigations of harassment complaints.

Contact an Illinois Employment Lawyer for Legal Assistance

If your company has been accused by a current or ex-employee of workplace harassment or discrimination, the penalties if found liable can be severe. Call The Miller Law Firm, P.C. to schedule a free consultation with a seasoned Schaumburg, IL employment attorney and find out what legal recourse you may have.

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