by Julia Méndez, SHRM‑CP, PHR, CAAP, CDP, CELS
You do not have to look very long or hard lately to find cases of harassment in the workplace.
Employees are increasingly coming
forward to report harassment by a manager,
employee, faculty member, student, or
even a customer. Surprising to
many is the fact that the number
of charges of alleged harassment
filed with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
has increased each year over the
last three fiscal years (FY) from
26,820 in FY 2014 to 27,893 in FY
2015 to 28,216 in FY 2016. Keep
in mind that these totals do not include
reports filed with state or local Fair
Employment Practices agencies.
To understand what is involved in
such cases, one must first be aware of
what the federal government defines as
If an organization employs 15 or more
Defining, mitigating, and
people, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
and the Americans with Disabilities
Act provide coverage for employees. For
companies employing 20 or more people,
the Age Discrimination in Employment
Act also provides coverage. Per the
EEOC, harassment is defined as:
Unwelcome conduct that is based on
race, color, religion, sex (including
pregnancy), national origin, age
( 40 or older), disability, or genetic
information. Harassment becomes
unlawful where (1) enduring the
offensive conduct becomes a condition
of continued employment, or (2) the
conduct is severe or pervasive enough
to create a work environment that a
reasonable person would consider
intimidating, hostile, or abusive.
reducing harassment in
» Read about what the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission describes as harassment.
» Understand which employees are protected against harassment.
» Examine several recent settlements involving harassment, and learn how to deter that type of behavior at your place
» Learn to be proactive in teaching employees about anti‑harassment policies is an important step in mitigating harassment.
» Read about tips for writing an anti‑harassment policy that can give clear instructions to employees on the definition of
harassment, steps to take to report harassment, and consequences for harassment.