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Best Practices for Preventing Workplace Harassment

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has a report that contains, among other things, best practices for preventing and responding to workplace harassment.  

Harassment–a form of employment discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (both applicable to employers with 15 or more employees), and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (applicable to employers with 20 or more employees)-is unwelcome conduct based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetic information. 

Harassment becomes unlawful where enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.

Best Practices
According to the report, employers should:

  • Foster an organizational culture in which harassment is not tolerated;
  • Adopt and maintain a comprehensive anti-harassment policy (which prohibits harassment based on any protected characteristic, and which includes social media considerations) and establish procedures consistent with the best practices outlined in the report;
  • Ensure that any such anti-harassment policy-especially details about how to complain of harassment and how to report observed harassment-is frequently communicated to employees, in a variety of forms and methods;
  • Ensure that where harassment is found to have occurred, discipline is prompt and proportionate to the severity of the infraction. Discipline should be consistent, and not give (or create the appearance of) undue favor to any particular employee; and
  • Dedicate sufficient resources to training management and first-line supervisors on how to respond effectively to harassment that they observe, that is reported to them, or of which they have knowledge or information-even before such harassment reaches a legally-actionable level.

HR Works can assist employers with crafting legally compliant workplace policies regarding harassment, as well as providing customized training for managers and supervisors on their responsibilities to maintain a harassment free workplace. 

For additional information, please contact us at (877) 219-9062 or email us today.

Note: Employers may have specific obligations regarding harassment (e.g., specific training or notice requirements and/or additional protected classes) under state or local laws, which may also cover smaller entities.  For example, New York State has specific requirements in addition to the requirements of the EEOC.

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HR Works, headquartered in Upstate New York, is a human resource management outsourcing and consulting firm serving clients throughout the United States for over thirty years. HR Works provides scalable strategic human resource management and consulting services, including: affirmative action programs; benefits administration outsourcing; HRIS self-service technology; full-time, part-time and interim on-site HR managers; HR audits; legally reviewed employee handbooks and supervisor manuals; talent management and recruiting services; and training of managers and HR professionals.