By: Laura E. Mullen

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has released Proposed Enforcement Guidance on Unlawful Harassment for public comment. The proposed guidance explains the legal standards applicable to harassment claims under federal employment discrimination laws, providing clarity where courts have not consistently applied the laws. The proposed guidance addresses harassment claims based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, or genetic information, and provides concrete examples as illustrations of applicable laws.

The proposed guidance also contains concrete suggestions for employers regarding harassment policies, training, and complaint procedures. The EEOC has identified five core principles that have generally proven effective for employers preventing and addressing harassment:

  • Committed and engaged leadership;
  • Consistent and demonstrated accountability;
  • Strong and comprehensive harassment policies;
  • Trusted and accessible complaint procedures; and
  • Regular, interactive training tailored to the audience and the organization.

The proposed guidance provides a useful roadmap for employers wishing to revisit their own harassment policies. Employers may make comments on the proposed guidance until Feb. 9, 2017 at this link.

A comprehensive policy should recognize the many forms of workplace harassment, and should include provisions on retaliation. Leech Tishman strongly recommends that employers review and update workplace harassment policies annually. We would be happy to review your current policy and provide guidance on appropriate updates to comply with the most recent guidance. Leech Tishman also provides supervisory and employee training to our clients on all forms of workplace harassment.

For more information on workplace harassment or any other employment policy, contact Sally Griffith Cimini at 412.880.5610 or scimini@leechtishman.com or Laura Mullen at 412.694.7269 or lmullen@leechtishman.com.

Laura E. Mullen is an associate in the Litigation and Employment Practice Groups. She is based in the firm’s Pittsburgh office. Laura works closely with individuals and businesses on a wide range of litigation issues including breach of contract, tort, quasi-contract, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, libel, non-compete and trade regulation/anti-trust claims, and declaratory judgment issues.

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Leech Tishman Fuscaldo & Lampl is a full-service law firm dedicated to assisting individuals, businesses, and institutions. Leech Tishman offers legal services in alternative dispute resolution, bankruptcy & creditors’ rights, construction, corporate, employee benefits, employment, energy, environmental, health & safety, estates & trusts, family law, government relations, immigration, insurance coverage & corporate risk mitigation, intellectual property, international legal matters, litigation, real estate, and taxation. Headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA, Leech Tishman also has offices in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Wilmington, DE.