EEOC Task Force Report Urges Training Bystanders on Workplace Harassment Prevention

Employers need to broaden their concept of workplace harassment to include such steps as training bystanders to intervene to prevent harassment from occurring.

That’s one of the recommendations an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission task force is touting in calling for a reboot of harassment training.

The Select Task Force on workplace harassment, which the EEOC convened in 2015, issued its report and recommendations today.

Calling much of the anti-harassment training developed over the last 30 years as ineffective, the task force says it’s time to introduce new types of training, including workplace civility and bystander intervention.

Given the persistence of workplace harassment–one third of the 90,000 charges filed in 2015 had an allegation of harassment–it’s no longer enough to simply have avoiding legal liability as the goal of training, said task force co-chairs Commissioners Feldblum and Lipnic.

“Bystander intervention training can create a sense of collective responsibility on the part of workers and empower them to be engaged bystanders in preventing harassment,” Feldblum explained. “With leadership support, bystander intervention training could be a game changer in the workplace.” Feldblum also set forth the “audacious goal” of exploring an “It’s on Us” campaign in the workplace, similar to the campaign that encourages bystanders to prevent sexual assault on campuses.

The Report of the Co-Chairs of the Select Task Force on Harassment in the Workplace, witness statements, and an executive summary of the report, can be found on the agency’s website at https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/meetings/6-20-16/index.cfm.

 

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