The EEOC Updates Workplace Harassment Guidance

Beth Dean 06.04.24
Graphic - Blog 2024-06-04 Harassment

Key Points for Employers About the Latest Harassment Guidance

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has recently updated its guidelines on workplace harassment enforcement. This was the EEOC’s first update in more than 30 years. The updates are intended to clarify and modernize existing standards. These changes take into account recent legal developments and the realities of the modern workplace.

 Here’s a breakdown of the key changes employers should be aware of:

  • Expanded Protections for LGBTQ+ Employees: Harassment based on an employee’s sexual orientation or gender identity is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Examples of conduct that could be considered harassment include repeated intentional misgendering of an employee, denying an employee access to a restroom consistent with their gender identity, or harassing an employee because they do not conform to stereotypical gender norms.
  • Pregnancy and Related Medical Conditions: The definition of sexual harassment has been broadened to encompass harassment related to pregnancy, childbirth, and other medical conditions related to pregnancy. This includes but is not limited to, harassment regarding an employee’s decisions about abortion, contraception, or pregnancy accommodations.
  • Harassment in the Virtual Workplace:  The EEOC acknowledges the rise of remote work arrangements and clarifies that harassment can also occur through electronic means like email, instant messaging, or video conferencing. Employers should ensure that their anti-harassment policies address online communication and adhere to the same standards as in-person interactions.
  • Employer Responsibility: The updated guidance emphasizes the importance of employers taking proactive steps to prevent harassment. This includes maintaining up-to-date anti-harassment policies that define prohibited conduct, outline complaint procedures, and ensure consistent enforcement. Additionally, employers should provide regular training to all employees and managers on recognizing, preventing, and responding to harassment.

Additional Resources:

The EEOC’s official enforcement guidance on harassment in the workplace can be found here: EEOC Harassment Guidance

The EEOC’s guidance offers valuable insights. But it’s important to note that it does not have the force and effect of law. Employers seeking further legal guidance should consult with an employment law attorney.

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