EEOC Issues 2023 Guide on Modern Workplace Harassment

In September 2023, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a long-anticipated enforcement guide for modern workplace harassment in U.S. employment. The new guide, titled “Enforcement Guidance on Harassment in the Workplace,” sets forth important guidelines for employers to follow, including those in California.

As a California employee, it’s imperative to understand your rights under the law to ensure unethical employers are held accountable for unlawful behavior and any incidents of workplace misconduct. Keep reading to learn more about what constitutes modern workplace harassment under the EEOC.

What Is Workplace Harassment in California?

In California, workplace harassment refers to any unwelcome conduct that creates a hostile or offensive work environment based on a protected characteristic. Protected characteristics are outlined by the EEOC and include race, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy.

Furthermore, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) offers additional protections against workplace harassment in California, and employers are legally obligated to take appropriate steps to prevent and address workplace harassment.

EEOC Publishes “Proposed Enforcement Guidance on Harassment in the Workplace”

The workplace harassment proposal set forth by the EEOC is already garnering attention as the first voted document since 1999, begging the question: What is its purpose? The transmittal “issues for public input the Commission’s proposed guidance on harassment in the workplace under EEOC-enforced laws.”

The new EEOC guidance aims to help employers understand their responsibilities under federal anti-discrimination laws and establish best practices for preventing and addressing harassment in the workplace. While compliance is technically voluntary, employers who disregard this new enforcement guide can be liable for workplace harassment claims, making it all the more important for California workers to know their employee rights under the EEOC and exercise them when needed.

The new EEOC guidance applies to all employers covered by federal anti-discrimination laws, including employers with 15 or more employees. The proposed enforcement guidance covers several important areas related to workplace harassment, including:

1. LGBTQ Harassment

The EEOC guidance clarifies that discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is prohibited under federal law and should be treated as a form of sex discrimination. Employers should ensure that their anti-harassment policies specifically prohibit harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

2. Online Harassment

The EEOC guidance recognizes that online harassment, including through social media platforms, can create a hostile work environment. Employers should have clear policies that address online harassment and train employees on appropriate online behavior.

3. Harassment Based on Reproductive Decision-Making

The EEOC guidance clarifies that workplace harassment based on reproductive decision-making, such as an employee's decision to have or not have children, is a form of sex discrimination. Employers should ensure that their anti-harassment policies specifically prohibit harassment based on reproductive decision-making.

Importance of Hiring Experienced Representation

The new EEOC guidance provides important information and best practices for employers to prevent and address workplace harassment.

If you’re a victim of workplace harassment in California, securing skilled representation from a trusted employment lawyeris imperative to obtain full and fair compensation, as they can assess the unique dynamics of your case to ensure your claims are fortified with relevant evidence and determine an effective and appropriate legal strategy to employ on your behalf.

Trusted Monterey County Employment Lawyer

At Polaris Law Group, LLP, our seasoned employment lawyer has a successful track record representing wronged workers throughout Monterey County. From pregnancy discrimination to FMLA violations, our firm has over 25 years of experience advocating for California employees. If you were wronged or mistreated by a California employer, look no further than the superior advocacy at Polaris Law Group to prioritize your unique needs while fighting for the justice you rightfully deserve.

Workplace misconduct takes a heavy toll on California employees. Our skilled attorney can protect your rights. Contact us online to schedule a consultation.