EEOC Workplace Harassment Study Update: Focus Shifts to Developing Strategies to Prevent Workplace Harassment
Continuing the federal Study of Harassment in the Workplace, officials at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently met with a panel of experts in Los Angeles to “explore innovative steps to prevent workplace harassment,” the EEOC has explained.
This meeting marked the second convening of the Task Force overseeing this Study – and the first time officials met outside of Washington D.C. to carry on the work of this Study, which is being headed up by EEOC Commissioners Chai R. Feldblum and Victoria A. Lipnic.
Outcome of the Meeting: A Look at the Harassment Prevention Strategies Discussed
During the recent convening of EEOC officials, as well as academic professionals, lawyers, labor leaders and business professionals, some of the harassment prevention strategies that were discussed included (but were not necessarily limited to):
- Shifting the pressure to businesses who are buyers – Namely, this strategy focuses on encouraging companies to only engage in business with other companies that “implement a human rights-based Code of Conduct monitored and enforced by the Council.” Describing this tactic, Judge Laura Safer Espinoza, Director of the Fair Food Standards Council, explained that, “This market-driven model has – in four short years of implementation – brought an end to impunity for sexual harassment and sexual violence.”
- Empowering bystanders to aid in solutions – The “bystanders” here refer to colleagues, managers and others who can take action to “actively engage in violence prevention” by developing innovative programs that will facilitate the reporting and investigation of workplace harassment. One of the more noteworthy aspects of this discussion was the emphasis on getting “management buy-in,” as management has the ability to send a clear message that workplace harassment is not tolerated.
- Conducting ongoing training on workplace harassment – Namely, some panel experts pointed out that, every 12 to 18 months, all employees of businesses (not just the managers) should undergo training on how to prevent/respond to workplace harassment, with this training ideally being offered in multiple languages and being customized to fit the nature of an industry/workplace/specific occupation (when appropriate/necessary).
Commenting on the outcome of this meeting, as well as the ongoing work of this Study, EEOC Commissioner Feldblum stated:
If there is one thing we have learned so far, it is that the more we can do to prevent harassment before it happens, the better off we will all be… Remedying harassment is never as good as stopping it before it happened.
What do you think about the EEOC’s progress with this workplace harassment study? Are there other prevention efforts that should be considered? Do you think these strategies could be effective at preventing workplace harassment? Share your opinions with us on Facebook & Google+.
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