In a report report on its efforts to prevent workplace harassment, the EEOC announced record numbers in its education, enforcement and promotion of respectful workplaces across the country. The agency reported a 50% increase in lawsuits filed over workplace harassment, 17% increase in charges filed over harassment, 24% increase in reasonable cause findings of harassment, and over $23 million dollars in additional money recovered from employers for harassment cases versus the prior year. At the same time the agency reaffirmed its goals to bring workplace harassment to an end and push harder against employers to gain compliance.
This level of enforcement should come as no surprise, as the #MeToo movement continues to grow in popularity and employees continue to rightfully stand up for themselves in the workplace. However, as an employer, if you have not re-examined your workplace policies to keep up with flow the changing tides, this could be a very dangerous time.
Everyone wants to provide a safe and comfortable place for their employees to work, but there are always bad actors who fail to adjust to the modern workplace. An employer who has not yet reviewed both their workplace harassment policies as well as their means of enforcement puts themselves at a disadvantage when it comes to both hiring and retaining qualified employees. In addition, who fail to take action open themselves up to lawsuits from both individuals as well as federal and state agencies.
One area of emphasis of the EEOC is to focus on training employees to be proactive “bystanders” in order to head off disrespectful, offensive, or harassing conduct before it reaches the level of illegal conduct. It has been found that such training can lead to fewer lawsuits and employee complaints to agencies. Training such as this is also a specialty of the Wiley Law office that we can provide as soon as it is requested.
If you feel your employees need a nudge in the right direction for creating a hospitable, respectful workplace in which all employees feel they can succeed, feel free to contact the Wiley Law office for training that works.