EEOC Offers Checklist for Harassment Compliance

In June 2016, the EEOC issued a report on harassment in
the workplace, the purpose of which was to renew workplace
harassment prevention efforts.

As part of that effort, the EEOC put forth a checklist of
four criteria for an effective harassment prevention
program as noted below.

#1: Leadership and Accountability
The first step for creating a holistic harassment
prevention program is for the leadership of an
organization to establish a culture of respect in which
harassment is not tolerated. Check the line if the
leadership of your organization has taken the following
steps:
___Leadership has allocated sufficient resources for a
harassment prevention effort.
___Leadership has allocated sufficient staff time for a
harassment prevention effort.
___Leadership has assessed harassment risk factors and has
taken steps to minimize those risks.

Based on the commitment of leadership, check the line if
your organization has the following components in place:
___A harassment prevention policy that is easy-to-
understand and that is regularly communicated to all
employees.
___A harassment reporting system that employees know about
and is fully resourced and which accepts reports of
harassment experienced and harassment observed.
___Imposition of discipline that is prompt, consistent,
and proportionate to the severity of the harassment, if
harassment is determined to have occurred.
___Accountability for mid-level managers and front-line
supervisors to prevent and/or respond to workplace
harassment.
___Regular compliance trainings for all employees so they
can recognize prohibited forms of conduct and know how to
use the reporting system.
___Regular compliance trainings for mid-level managers and
front-line supervisors so they know how to prevent and/or
respond to workplace harassment.

Bonus points if you can check these lines:
___The organization conducts climate surveys on a regular
basis to assess the extent to which harassment is
experienced as a problem in the workplace.
___The organization has implemented metrics for harassment
response and prevention in supervisory employees’
performance reviews.
___The organization conducts workplace civility training
and bystander intervention training.
___The organization has partnered with researchers to
evaluate the organization’s holistic workplace harassment
prevention effort.

#2: An Anti-Harassment Policy
An anti-harassment policy is a key component of a holistic
harassment prevention effort. Check the line below if your
anti-harassment policy contains the following elements:
___An unequivocal statement that harassment based on any
protected characteristic will not be tolerated.
___An easy-to-understand description of prohibited
conduct, including examples.
___A description of a reporting system – available to
employees who experience harassment as well as those who
observe harassment – that provides multiple avenues to
report, in a manner easily accessible to employees.
___A statement that the reporting system will provide a
prompt, thorough, and impartial investigation.
___A statement that the identity of an individual who
submits a report, a witness who provides information
regarding a report, and the target of the complaint, will
be kept confidential to the extent possible consistent
with a thorough and impartial investigation.
___A statement that any information gathered as part of an
investigation will be kept confidential to the extent
possible consistent with a thorough and impartial
investigation.
___An assurance that the employer will take immediate and
proportionate corrective action if it determines that
harassment has occurred.
___An assurance that an individual who submits a report
(either of harassment experienced or observed) or a
witness who provides information regarding a report will
be protected from retaliation from co-workers and
supervisors.
___A statement that any employee who retaliates against
any individual who submits a report or provides
information regarding a report will be disciplined
appropriately.
___Is written in clear, simple words, in all languages
commonly used by members of the workforce.

#3: A Harassment Reporting System and Investigations
A reporting system that allows employees to file a report
of harassment they have experienced or observed, and a
process for undertaking investigations, are essential
components of a holistic harassment prevention effort.
Check the line below if your anti-harassment effort
contains the following elements:
___A fully-resourced reporting process that allows the
organization to respond promptly and thoroughly to reports
of harassment that have been experienced or observed.
___Employer representatives who take reports seriously.
___A supportive environment where individuals feel safe to
report harassing behavior to management.
___Well-trained, objective, and neutral investigators.
___Timely responses and investigations.
___Investigators who document all steps taken from the
point of first contact and who prepare a written report
using guidelines to weigh credibility.
___An investigation that protects the privacy of
individuals who file complaints or reports, individuals
who provide information during the investigation, and the
person(s) alleged to have engaged in harassment, to the
greatest extent possible.
___Mechanisms to determine whether individuals who file
reports or provide information during an investigation
experience retribution, and authority to impose sanctions
on those who engage in retaliation.
___During the pendency of an investigation, systems to
ensure individuals alleged to have engaged in harassment
are not “presumed guilty” and are not “punished” unless
and until a complete investigation determines that
harassment has occurred.
___A communication of the determination of the
investigation to all parties and, where appropriate, a
communication of the sanction imposed if harassment was
found to have occurred.

#4: Compliance Training
A holistic harassment prevention effort provides training
to employees regarding an employer’s policy, reporting
systems and investigations. Check the line if your
organization’s compliance training is based on the
following structural principles and includes the following
content:

Structural Principles:
___Supported at the highest levels.
___Repeated and reinforced on a regular basis.
___Provided to all employees at every level of the
organization.
___Conducted by qualified, live, and interactive trainers.
___If live training is not feasible, designed to include
active engagement by participants.
___Routinely evaluated and modified as necessary.

Content of Compliance Training for All Employees:
___Describes illegal harassment, and conduct that, if left
unchecked, might rise to the level of illegal harassment.
___Includes examples that are tailored to the specific
workplace and the specific workforce.
___Educates employees about their rights and
responsibilities if they experience conduct that is not
acceptable in the workplace.
___Describes, in simple terms, the process for reporting
harassment that is experienced or observed.
___Explains the consequences of engaging in conduct
unacceptable in the workplace.

Content of Compliance Training for Managers and First-line
Supervisors:
___Provides easy-to-understand and realistic methods for
dealing with harassment that they observe, that is
reported to them, or of which they have knowledge or
information, including description of sanctions for
failing to use such methods.
___Provides clear instructions on how to report harassing
behavior up the chain of command, including description of
sanctions for failing to report.
___Encourages managers and supervisors to practice
“situational awareness” and assess the workforces within
their responsibility for risk factors of harassment.
The EEOC notes that the checklists are meant to be a
useful tool in thinking about and taking steps to prevent
harassment in the workplace, and responding to harassment
when it occurs.

The EEOC also advises that checking all of the lines does
not necessarily mean an employer is in legal compliance
and conversely, the failure to check any particular line
does not mean an employer is not in compliance.

The checklists represent a useful tool for thinking about
and taking steps to prevent harassment.

 

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