The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently released proposed EEOC guidelines on harassment in the workplace—offering essential insights and recommendations to help organizations protect their employees and maintain a safe, inclusive work environment. As an employer, it’s crucial to be informed about these new guidelines and take proactive steps to mitigate potential issues at your law firm.
What is included in the proposed changes to EEOC Guidelines? According to SHRM.org: “The proposed guidance, published on Oct. 2 in the Federal Register, outlines the legal standards for harassment claims under laws enforced by the agency. It provides updated examples to reflect a wide range of scenarios, incorporates current case law on workplace harassment, and addresses the proliferation of digital technology and how social media postings and other online content can contribute to a hostile work environment.”
Some of the Proposed Changes or Updates to the EEOC Guidelines
EEOC Guidance Shields LGBTQ+ Workers, Abortion Choice
The EEOC’s proposed harassment guidance protects LGBTQ+ employees’ rights in the workplace and clarifies the agency’s views that anti-bias laws cover employees’ abortion-related decisions. In 2017, the commission unanimously approved an earlier version of the guidance, but it was reportedly held up by the Trump administration due to internal disagreements over LGBTQ+ worker protections.
Examples of Workplace Harassment
Offensive conduct may include, but is not limited to, offensive jokes, slurs, epithets or name calling, physical assaults or threats, intimidation, ridicule or mockery, insults or put-downs, offensive objects or pictures, and interference with work performance.
Preventing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
The proposed EEOC guidelines state that employers should have robust policies prohibiting sexual and gender-based harassment, with clear examples of the types of prohibited behaviors. Legal experts say that organizations should reinforce their anti-harassment policy, outline strategies to prevent harassment and other abusive conduct, conduct ongoing harassment prevention trainings, and take additional actions to mitigate harassment at work.
Why Law Firm Compliance Training Matters
Additionally, the EEOC guidelines address a wide variety of important topics like expanding protected grounds for harassment and broadening the definitions of disability, age, religion, national origin, race, and color to include stereotype-based harassment. It also puts a key focus on the importance of training all employees.
The EEOC says training can serve as a powerful tool for preventing harassment and safeguarding your organization from being found negligent in response to claims of a hostile work environment. According to the EEOC, training is not only an essential element in the prevention of harassment, but it also plays a pivotal role in demonstrating your commitment to creating a workplace free from harassment.
Comprehensive Law Firm Compliance Training
The EEOC strongly recommends that all employees, without exception, should undergo regular training. This comprehensive approach ensures that every member of your organization understands their rights and responsibilities—fostering a culture of respect and inclusivity. By doing so, you create a workforce that is not only more informed but also better equipped to address and prevent harassment effectively.
Supervisor-Specific Compliance Training
In addition to all-employee training, these new EEOC guidelines recommend that managers receive specialized training to equip them with the knowledge and tools to prevent harassment and respond effectively if it occurs. Supervisors are on the front lines when it comes to maintaining a positive workplace environment, and their ability to identify and address issues is critical.
Savvy Partners with Kantola to Offer Law Firm Compliance Training
Savvy has been a partner with Kantola for many years, to help law firms keep up with EEOC guidelines.
Trusted by over 15,000 organizations, from tech startups to Fortune 100 companies, Kantola is an innovative eLearning company focused on diversity, equity & inclusion, and harassment prevention.
The company has partnered with Littler, the world’s largest labor and employment practice. Together, these two powerhouses work with top Hollywood talent and instructional design to create the highest quality and most engaging eLearning experience available in compliance.
Kantola’s harassment prevention training meets or exceeds the new EEOC guidelines in the following ways:
- Provides guidance on harassment prevention through real-life stories, authentic scenarios, and meaningfully interactive exercises.
- Engages learners to understand more nuanced examples of behavior that if left unchecked might rise to the level of harassment.
- Outlines information about employees’ rights if they experience, observe, become aware of, or report conduct that they believe may be prohibited .
- Provides supervisors and managers with guidance on how to prevent, identify, stop, report, and respond to harassment.
- Offers content that is tailored to each workplace and workforce.
- Provides annually updated courses that enable employers to regularly train all employees with fresh and current content in a clear, easy-to-understand style and format.
In conclusion, the proposed EEOC guidelines underscore the importance of training in preventing workplace harassment and negligence claims. Kantola’s comprehensive training provides a seamless way to ensure your law firm is fully compliant with these guidelines.
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