Training focus must shift from avoiding liability to prevention, EEOC commissioners say
By Doug Chartier
LAW WEEK COLORADO
Out of the approximately 90,000 complaints the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received in fiscal year 2015, almost one third included some claim of workplace harassment.
For that reason and others, the EEOC is saying that workplace harassment prevention efforts among employers require a “reboot.”
EEOC commissioners unveiled a task force study June 20 that analyzed the factors that contribute to incidences of workplace harassment and how they are handled. In their report, commissioners Chai Feldblum and Victoria Lipnic called it “a persistent problem” in U.S. workplaces and concluded that many employers’ trainings on harassment must change. The report offered recommendations aimed at making such trainings more effective by focusing on harassment prevention rather than avoiding liability.
The EEOC defines harassment as “unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.” Harassment becomes unlawful when the conduct becomes a condition of employment or is so severe as to create an intimidating, hostile or abusive work environment.