The EEOC Has Embraced the #MeToo Movement

The #MeToo movement has put a spotlight on workplace sexual harassment and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has taken notice. The EEOC released preliminary enforcement data for the 2018 fiscal year to highlight its recent efforts to address the pervasive problem of workplace harassment. In fiscal year 2018:

The EEOC released this data to put employers on notice that combating workplace sexual harassment remains a top priority. Employers must do their part to promote and maintain harassment-free workplaces. This includes having an anti-harassment policy.

To be effective, anti-harassment policies must be written clearly and in a manner that is easily understood by employees. Policies should be tailored to meet specific organizational and operational characteristics. But, according to the EEOC, effective anti-harassment policies typically have the following elements in common.

  • An unequivocal statement that harassment will not be tolerated.
  • An easy-to-understand description of prohibited conduct, including examples.
  • An easily accessible reporting system that provides multiple avenues for employees to report instances of harassment so they can be investigated promptly, thoroughly and impartially.
  • A statement that reports (identities and information) will be kept confidential to the extent possible consistent with a thorough and impartial investigation.
  • An assurance that necessary corrective action will be taken if it is determined that harassment has occurred.
  • An assurance that those who submit reports will be protected against unlawful retaliation and that those who retaliate against another will be disciplined appropriately.
If your anti-harassment policy is missing any of these elements, or worse yet, missing altogether, it’s time to act. In June 2018, an EEOC task force convened a public meeting entitled “Transforming #MeToo Into Harassment-Free Workplaces.” The EEOC is letting employers know that the #MeToo movement has become part of an enforcement initiative. Those refusing to accept this message may find themselves asking, Me Too?

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