EEOC Urges Training to Reboot Workplace Harassment Prevention Efforts

For the last year and a half, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace has been meeting in public and private sessions in an effort to “reboot workplace prevention efforts.” EEOC Commissioners Chai Feldblum and Victoria Lipnic co-chair the task force and published their report in June 2016.

The report states that “too many people in too many workplaces find themselves in unacceptably harassing situations when they are simply trying to do their jobs.” The report focuses on preventing unwelcome conduct based on characteristics protected under our employment civil rights laws, even before such conduct rises to the level of illegal harassment. While the report does not profess to have all the answers to reboot workplace harassment prevention, it stresses that everyone in the workplace must feel a stake in the effort.

Among the report’s key findings is that workplace harassment remains a persistent problem. Nearly onethird of all charges filed with the EEOC in fiscal year 2015 included an allegation of harassment. In addition, workplace harassment often goes unreported. The report found that nearly three out of four individuals who experienced harassment never reported it to their employers, fearing disbelief of their claims, inaction on their claims, blame, or social or professional retaliation.

As MSEC’s Manager of Employment Law Training, I found the report’s discussion of effective anti-harassment training particularly interesting. The report discusses the content and structure of effective training in the eyes of the commissioners and urges that training should be conducted for all employees—not just managers and supervisors—on a regular basis. In addition, the report stated that the training should be conducted by qualified, live, and interactive trainers, which is precisely how we conduct our harassment prevention training at MSEC and for onsite training!

I am quite proud of the interactive harassment prevention program we have developed at MSEC, and we consistently receive high praise for the content and our attorneys who conduct the programs. If you haven’t used MSEC for your anti-harassment training, perhaps it’s time to give me or your assigned staff member a call to discuss your training needs. If we have been to your workplace in the past to conduct harassment prevention sessions, maybe it’s time for a refresher. Train on