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New EEOC Report On “Rebooting” Harassment Prevention

The U.S. Equal Employment Commission has issued a 130-page Task Force report on harassment in the workplace. The Task Force impaneled an outside group of experts to study the causes, effects, and prevention of harassment. Workplace harassment continues to be prevalent and hard to eradicate.

In addition to current statistics on harassment in the workplace, the report provides a toolkit that lays out steps to assist employers with compliance. It gives tips for "rebooting" sexual harassment prevention training. Emphasis must be placed on preventing harassment before it begins, with training being part of a "holistic, committed effort to combat harassment, focused on the specific culture and needs of a particular workplace." Training provided through live interactive delivery was identified as the most impactful method. Any training should be tailored to specific workplaces and provide for different learning styles; it should clarify what conduct would not be considered harassment; it should educate employees on their rights and responsibilities if they experience or witness harassment; it should lay out the ways in which to report the unwelcome conduct, and it should identify the procedure that will happen once a formal complaint is made.

A three-pronged strategy was proposed to reduce harassment, which would start at the top with "leadership and commitment to a diverse, inclusive, and respectful workplace in which harassment is simply not acceptable"; making "policies, reporting procedures, investigations, and corrective actions... essential component" of the effort; and conducting effective compliance and prevention training. A list of "situational" risk factors is identified for employers to use to monitor their workplaces. The report may be found on the EEOC's website.