by Christopher Meyers
Originally published: April 12, 2017
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) recently created a Select Task Force, comprised of 16 highly qualified individuals from diverse professional and personal backgrounds, to examine where U.S. employers collectively stand in their fight to end workplace harassment. The Task Force held private and public meetings and then issued a comprehensive report which includes valuable insights on the causes of workplace harassment and a blueprint of what employers can do to combat harassment and minimize liability.
So, where do we stand? While the Task Force concluded that much progress has been made over the past 30 years, employers still have a long way to go to end pervasive harassment issues in the workplace. During fiscal year 2015, the EEOC received approximately 89,385 charges from private and public sector employees in the workplace, with 27,893 of these charges alleging harassment. The Task Force focused not just on harassment of a sexual nature, but also harassment based on sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, race, disability, ethnicity/national origin, color and religion. Perhaps most disturbing, the Task Force concluded that around three out of four victims of workplace harassment do not raise it with their employer for fear of reprisal, inaction, blame, social or professional retaliation, etc. Since 2010, employers have paid a whopping $698.7 million through the EEOC’s enforcement process alone.