EEOC Releases New Guidance on Workplace Harassment

May 22, 2024 Employment Law

At the end of April, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released its final guidance on workplace harassment, titled “Enforcement Guidance on Harassment in the Workplace.” It is the first comprehensive effort and update made in 25 years.

The EEOC voted in October 2023 to propose the new document and received nearly 40,000 comments. The final decision to publish wasn’t unanimous, with some criticizing the guidance for its impact on women’s privacy and safety rights at work, as well as speech and belief rights. 

The final guidance includes many examples of unlawful harassment, ranging from scenarios involving older workers, immigrant workers, and survivors of gender-based violence. The overall goal is to help people feel safe on the job and provide a resource to employers to create respectful workplaces. Something we’ve discussed on our blog a lot.

The document demonstrates how harassment can come from various sources, such as coworkers, supervisors, customers, contractors, and other third parties. The “Enforcement Guidance on Harassment in the Workplace” also addresses the impact of virtual work environments and digital technology, including social media, on workplace harassment.

For example, the EEOC highlights that actions affecting employment conditions, even if outside the workplace, such as electronic communications through private devices or social media, can contribute to a hostile work environment. However, simply posting on social media typically won’t create such an environment if it doesn’t target the employer or its employees.

The document is extensive (nearly 200 pages), but the EEOC has also provided a Summary of Key Provisions, which is a more concise overview of the issues related to workplace harassment.  

For many employers, workplace assessments and training can help ensure workplace conduct never reaches the level of unlawful harassment. Contact AR Group today to learn more about the EEOC’s official guidance and to take the next steps in ensuring your workplace harassment policies are current and thorough.