EEOC Publishes New Guidance On Harassment

Volume: 23 | Issue: 16
May 2, 2024

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has published a new formal guidance on harassment in the workplace. The EEOC explains that harassment remains a critical issue in the workplace as more than a third of all discrimination charges include an allegation of some type of harassment. 

This new guidance addresses developments in the law (since 1999) and a variety of new topics, such as on-line harassment and “intraclass” and “intersectional” harassment. It also consolidates and replaces prior EEOC guidance on harassment to create a “single, unified agency resource on EEOC-enforced workplace harassment law.” In addition to this formal guidance, the EEOC has published a variety of resources to accompany it, including a Summary of Key Provisions, a fact sheet for small businesses, and a Q&A for employees. 

As expected, the EEOC has taken a broad approach to harassment which may render the guidance subject to challenges or impact whether a court would defer to the guidance in certain circumstances. For example, the EEOC has taken the position that repeatedly misgendering an employee constitutes unlawful harassment which many argue extends the law further than the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County and could impinge on employees’ religious beliefs. 

Nevertheless, as the party responsible for preventing unlawful harassment in the workplace, it is important for all employers to understand the scope (even the potential scope) of the laws which prohibit harassment. Employers are encouraged, therefore, to review these new materials which apply familiar concepts to a variety of new and updated situations.

You may also find information or examples you want to incorporate into your training presentations or policies as we always endeavor to ensure employees and supervisors understand the full scope of what could be considered unlawful harassment. Given the breadth of the EEOC’s reach here, however, we recommend that you review your updated materials first with a KZA attorney before publishing them to your workforce. 

KZA Employer Report articles are for general information only; they are not intended and should not be construed to be legal advice. Reading or replying to such articles does not establish an attorney-client relationship. In addition, because the subject matters and applicable laws discussed in Employer Report articles are often in a state of change and not always applicable to every type of business entity or organization, readers should consult with counsel before making decisions based on the same.

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