Eeoc Issues New Guidelines on Sexual Harassment

On January 19, 2017, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued new proposed guidance on employment harassment policies. The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal civil rights laws protecting employees from harassment based upon “race, color, sex, national origin, disability, age or genetic information.” However, the way harassment occurs, both in the work place and on-line has changed. The proposed guidelines are designed to update several outdated EEOC policies, considering significant changes in the work place, regarding the use and processing of electronic information.

The new EEOC guidance breaks down harassment claims into three elements:

  • (i) Is the conduct based upon a legally protected status?
  • (ii) Does the conduct create a hostile environment (because of severity or frequency)?
  • (iii) Is the employer responsible?

As business turns increasingly on-line for essential transactions, the EEOC has begun to respond to claims of harassment occurring outside the work place, including the use of social media. This development has resulted in a broad definition of what is included in the definition of employment harassment. The proposal recommends that employers train employees on civility and explains that this training should include on-line interactions. Civility training should be:

  • (i) Encouraged by senior leadership;
  • (ii) Reinforced regularly;
  • (iii) Attended by all levels of employees
  • (iv) Provided in all languages commonly used by all employees;
  • (v) Conducted in person or using active training tools;
  • (vi) Tailored to the needs of each work place; and
  • (vii) Evaluated by employees and updated accordingly.

Read more on the services of Mark J. Berkowitz Sexual Harassment Attorney


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Mark Berkowitz focuses his practice on employee representation and employment discrimination matters before both state and federal courts; as well as government administrative agencies, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Florida Commission on Human Relations. These litigation matters involve cases related to claims of discrimination based on race, national origin, religion and gender, including, pregnancy and sexual harassment, as well as claims based on age, disability, medical leave; under the Family Medical Leave Act, retaliation and whistle-blower claims. He also handles claims involving issues of unfair competition, breach of the duty of fair representation, unpaid wages and non-compete and trade secret claims; and additionally, he engages clients in the negotiation of employment contracts and severance agreements.

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Mark J. Berkowitz has been practicing labor and employment law for more than 20 years in the Fort Lauderdale area. He can advise you on non-compete agreements, employment contracts, and other employment related issues.


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