EEOC Calls on Employers to ‘Reboot’ Harassment Prevention Efforts

After 18 months of work examining the myriad and complex issues associated with harassment in the workplace, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace has issued a comprehensive 88-page report. The report stresses the importance a workplace culture in which harassment is not tolerated, and urges employers to offer harassment prevention training “on a dynamic and repeated basis to all employees.”

The Task Force, which was composed of 16 members from around the country, including law professors, sociologists, psychologists, employee lawyers, management attorneys, employer advocacy groups, and organized labor, held a series of meetings, heard testimony from more than 30 witnesses, and received numerous public comments. The Task Force report provides detailed recommendations for harassment prevention, including a chart of risk factors that may permit harassment to occur, effective policies and procedures to reduce and eliminate harassment, and recommendations for future research and funding, and also includes a toolkit of compliance aids for employers.

As you might expect, the subject of harassment prevention training was central to the Task Force report. “

[S]ufficient resources must be allocated to procure training, trainings must be provided frequently, and sufficient time must be allocated from employee schedules so that all employees can attend these trainings.” But not just any old training will do. To meet the Task Force’s recommendations, harassment prevention training should include all protected characteristics, not just sexual harassment, should be tailored to the specific employer, should educate employees about their rights and responsibilities, should clarify what is not harassment, and “should be conducted by qualified, live, and interactive trainers” who can answer participants’ questions. The Task Force also recommended that employers consider including workplace civility training and bystander intervention training as part of a holistic harassment prevention program. The report noted that, “when trained correctly, middle-managers and first-line supervisors in particular can be an employer’s most valuable resource in preventing and stopping harassment.”

The Task Force stressed that “live trainers who are dynamic, engaging, and have full command of the subject matter are the most likely to deliver effective training”, but noted that if using live trainers is cost-prohibitive or logistically unfeasible, interactive online training can be an appropriate substitute.

What this means to you: Looking for harassment prevention training that meets the Task Force recommendations? Fair Measures is your solution. We emphasize not dry legal principles, but the spirit of the law: fairness, respect, integrity. Every training is tailored to your organization, with your policies, procedures, and values integrated into the program. Our classroom and webinar programs are highly participatory, with group interaction, case studies, video vignettes, skill-building exercises, and plenty of time to ask questions. Our instructors are seasoned attorneys, experienced trainers, and skilled facilitators who use personal stories and appropriate humor to make these topics come alive. We talk not only about illegal harassment, but also about the employer’s right to insist on respectful conduct. We stress that preventing harassment and creating a respectful workplace is not HR’s job, not management’s job, but everyone’s job. Our clients know that well trained managers, especially ones who can spot issues before they become legal problems, make the difference between disaster and success, save your organization millions of dollars in legal fees and thousands of hours of lost time, and keep employee morale and retention high.

To find out more about training programs or to book a workshop, please call 800-458-2778 or email training@fairmeasures.com.

Posted 08-08-2016

Information here is correct at the time it is posted. Case decisions cited here may be reversed. Please do not rely on this information without consulting an attorney first.

2016-11-18T16:00:33+00:00

About the Author:

Ann Kiernan has litigated claims of wrongful discharge and discrimination before state and federal courts and administrative matters before the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, representing both employers and employees. Ms. Kiernan co-hosted The Employee Rights Forum, a weekly radio call-in show reaching up to a half-million listeners in the New York metropolitan area, and her articles on employment law have been published in many books and magazines. Both as a firm partner and as a director, Ms. Kiernan gained solid experience in management and human resources compliance. She has worked with Fair Measures since 1997.