Holistic Approach to Combat Harassment in the Workplace

A year following the inception of the #MeToo movement, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) held a public meeting on October 31, 2018, entitled Revamping Workplace Culture to Prevent Harassment. During this meeting, the Commission heard from 7 panelists who testified about how each of their respective organization are tackling harassment in the workplace through preventive measures, innovative training approaches, awareness campaigns, and leadership accountability.  Following the meeting, acting Chair Victoria Lipnic stated, “leadership and accountability set the tone and the expectation that harassment will not be tolerated in the workplace…Our witnesses today stressed how both leadership and accountability must also be driven throughout an organization from the line employees, to supervisors, to the CEO, and the Board.”  Commissioner Chai R. Feldblum stated, “today’s testimony underscores that to really tackle the problem of workplace harassment, we need to change workplace culture, hold people accountable and have the right policies, procedures and training…no one element, alone, will suffice.”  Commissioner Feldblum who co-chaired the EEOC Select Task on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace emphasized that combating harassment in the workplace takes a holistic approach and starts with addressing workplace culture.


The Commission also released the final fiscal year 2018 data which highlighted the agency’s efforts to combat and prevent workplace harassment.  The EEOC reported a 13.6 percent increase in sexual harassment charges, which was one and a half percent more than what was prebiously reported in the preliminary fiscal year 2018 data.  For charges alleging harassment, probable cause findings increased by 23.6 percent and resulted in 66 harassment lawsuits, 41 of which alleged sexual harassment. The EEOC also reported a 50 percent increase by individuals and employers seeking information and guidance on harassment on their website.


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