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EEOC proposing updates to guidance on preventing workplace harassment

Photo: Photosbypatrik/iStockphoto

Washington — The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is asking for comment on proposed enforcement guidance aimed at preventing and addressing worker harassment based on sex, race and other protected traits.

In 2017, EEOC issued proposed guidance on harassment in the workplace, but it wasn’t finalized. The commission hasn’t updated its workplace harassment guidance since 1999.

EEOC says the proposed guidance, published on Oct. 2, “provides numerous updated examples to reflect a wide range of scenarios, incorporates updates on current jurisprudence on harassment in the workplace, and addresses the proliferation of digital technology and how social media posts and other online content can contribute to a hostile work environment.”

New scenarios in the proposed guidance include:

  • Sex-based harassment related to sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Social media conduct outside the workplace that contributes to a hostile work environment.
  • Conduct on an employer’s email system that contributes to a hostile work environment.

From fiscal year 2018 to FY 2021, EEOC fielded more than 98,000 charges of alleged harassment, including over 27,000 related to sexual harassment.

“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 Burrows said in a press release. “The commission looks forward to receiving public input on the proposed enforcement guidance.”

Comments are due Nov. 1.

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