The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued guidance to assist federal agencies in preventing and remedying harassment in the workplace, which may also be helpful to private employers. The guidance, titled “Promising Practices for Preventing Harassment in the Federal Sector,” provides recommendations organized into four categories: Leadership and Accountability, Comprehensive and Effective Anti-Harassment Policy, Effective and Accessible Anti-Harassment Program, and Effective Anti-Harassment Training.
Leadership and Accountability involve top management taking various steps to demonstrate commitment, such as periodically assessing harassment risk factors, conducting climate and exit surveys, evaluating responses to harassment allegations, and incorporating performance measures on harassment prevention for supervisors and managers. These practices foster a culture where harassment is not tolerated and support employee well-being.
Comprehensive and Effective Anti-Harassment Policy includes typical recommendations, as well as explicitly assuring that the policy applies to all employees and applicants, discussing potential violations on virtual platforms, and periodically reviewing and updating the policy. The EEOC also emphasizes the importance of providing multiple channels for reporting harassment and ensuring confidentiality to the extent possible.
Effective and Accessible Anti-Harassment Program emphasizes the need for comprehensive programs that include investigative and remedial procedures. This may involve allowing for anonymous reporting, utilizing a complaint tracking system, educating employees and managers about the program, and using tailored training to address unwelcome conduct. The EEOC also recommends considering interim actions to prevent the recurrence of harassing conduct during an investigation.
Effective Anti-Harassment Training ensures that employees and management are aware of what conduct is prohibited and how to prevent and correct it. Employers should provide training that is periodically updated, accessible to all employees, and includes plain language definitions and examples of harassment. Additionally, employers should use experienced trainers to lead the training and seek feedback to improve the training’s effectiveness.
Training should also be tailored for non-supervisory employees with live, interactive discussions, real-world examples, and bystander training. Separate training for managers and supervisors should include reminders about reporting harassment, confidentiality, monitoring for online harassment, and providing “trauma-informed training” for those who may receive or respond to harassment allegations.
Private employers can use these recommendations, as detailed in the EEOC’s guidance, to prevent harassment and defend against claims before the EEOC. By implementing the EEOC’s guidance, employers can foster a culture that does not tolerate harassment, protecting both their employees and the organization.
The full text of the EEOC’s guidance, titled “Promising Practices for Preventing Harassment in the Federal Sector,” can be accessed here.
At Shulman Rogers, our Labor and Employment Group provides sexual harassment prevention training sessions to our clients (typically on an annual basis). These sessions consist of a one-hour Zoom presentation for all employees, followed by an extra hour of training specifically for supervisors and management personnel. To accommodate new hires, we record the training and make it accessible to clients post-presentation. This way, employees who join the company during the year can view the recordings and complete the training as part of their onboarding process.
If you have any questions about this Alert or the training that we offer, we encourage you to reach out to your Shulman Rogers contact for solutions and recommendations.
The contents of this Alert are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. If you have any questions about this Alert, please contact the Shulman Rogers attorney with whom you regularly work or a member of the Shulman Rogers Employment and Labor Law Group.
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