Law Office of David Miklas, P.A.

Labor & Employment law - Employers only

In 2015, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) established a Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace.  The Task Force was co-chaired by EEOC Commissioner Feldblum and Lipnic and included attorneys for both management and plaintiffs as well as advocacy groups for employers and employees and scholars who study harassment.  The Task Force reviewed all aspects of workplace harassment and methods to prevent it and address it when found to occur.  On June 20, 2016, the EEOC held a public meeting at the headquarters in Washington, D.C. where the Task Force presented findings.  The EEOC issued a report on the Task Force’s study of harassment in the workplace which focused on preventing harassment.  A copy of that report can be found by clicking here.

The Task Force report found that nearly one third of the discrimination charges received by EEOC included an allegation of workplace harassment.  According to the Task Force’s report, employer leadership is critical in whether harassment occurs or is prevented.  The report emphasizes how a culture of non-harassment that starts at the top of an organization, and when trained correctly, middle-managers and first-line supervisors can be an employer’s most valuable resource in preventing and stopping harassment.

        The Report includes the Task Force’s recommendations which include:

  • Employers should devote sufficient resources to harassment prevention efforts, both to ensure that such efforts are effective, and to reinforce the credibility of leadership’s commitment to creating a workplace free of harassment.
  • Employers should ensure that where harassment is found to have occurred, discipline is prompt and proportionate to the severity of the infraction. In addition, employers should ensure that where harassment is found to have occurred, discipline is consistent, and does not give (or create the appearance of) undue favor to any particular employee.
  • Employers should hold mid-level managers and front-line supervisors accountable for preventing and/or responding to workplace harassment.
  • Employers should be cautious about using the phrase “a ‘zero tolerance’ anti-harassment policy” because discipline for harassment should be proportionate to the offensiveness of the conduct.
  • Employers should ensure that the anti-harassment policy is communicated frequently to employees, in a variety of forms and methods.
  • Employers should ensure that workplace investigations are prompt, objective, and thorough, which can be accomplished by using well-trained, objective, and neutral investigators.  Investigations should be kept as confidential as possible, recognizing that complete confidentiality or anonymity will not always be attainable.

Employers should consider training as part of a harassment prevention program.In light of this report, containing recommendations issued by a Task Force created by the EEOC, it is a good time for employers to evaluate their harassment prevention efforts.

If you own a Florida business or if you are in a human resources position in Florida and you have questions about updating your harassment policy, you can email the Law Office of David Miklas, P.A. to arrange for a consultation or you can call us at 1-772-465-5111.

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