April 20, 2023
WASHINGTON –The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today issued a technical assistance document, “Promising Practices for Preventing Harassment in the Federal Sector,” which provides practical tips for preventing and addressing harassment within the federal civilian workforce.
“The EEOC remains committed to combating workplace harassment on all bases and providing federal agencies with the tools they need to advance anti-harassment efforts,” said EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows. “This document will serve as a valuable resource to help agencies prevent and remedy harassment and will assist in their efforts to update or revise agency policies and programs.”
Since fiscal year 2018, more than half of federal sector equal employment opportunity (EEO) complaints include an allegation of harassment. This technical assistance document builds on the work of the 2016 Report of the Co-Chairs of the EEOC’s Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace and the 2017 Promising Practices for Preventing Harassment. Many of the practices identified in the new technical assistance document may also be helpful to employers outside of the federal government.
“Harassment prevention remains a high priority for the EEOC and the Administration,” said Dexter Brooks, Associate Director of the EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations. “This technical assistance document furthers our efforts to identify and address potential harassment. It also supports Executive Order 14035, which asks federal agencies to address workplace harassment and foster inclusive cultures that do not tolerate harassment. The practices outlined in this document aim to assist federal agencies in continuing their efforts to be model employers.”
This document discusses practices required by Equal Employment Opportunity Management Directive 715 (MD-715), which details measures federal agencies must implement to establish and maintain an effective equal employment opportunity program, as well as additional promising practices recommended by the EEOC. Although federal agencies are not required to adopt the additional recommended practices, they are encouraged to consider adoption to strengthen their anti-harassment programs, help prevent workplace harassment, and promote effective compliance with the law.
The document provides recommendations in four main areas: 1) leadership and accountability, 2) comprehensive and effective anti-harassment policies, 3) effective and accessible anti-harassment programs, and 4) effective anti-harassment training.
Highlights include promising practices to help agencies increase commitment and accountability in their anti-harassment efforts and develop a comprehensive anti-harassment program:
- Ensuring that the agency has an anti-harassment program that is separate and distinct from its EEO program with neutral staff who are responsible for promptly, thoroughly, and impartially investigating harassment allegations and taking immediate and appropriate corrective action.
- Issuing, distributing, and prominently posting an annual anti-harassment policy statement signed by the agency head stating that harassment will not be tolerated, the type of conduct that is prohibited, how to report harassment, and the consequences of engaging in harassment and retaliation.
- Providing assurance that bullying, intimidation, and stalking will not be tolerated by the agency.
- Informing supervisors and managers about ways to monitor for online harassment, including in a virtual work environment.
- Ensuring that the agency’s response to harassment allegations is regularly evaluated and documented through an electronic tracking system.
- Considering trauma-informed training for all personnel who may receive or respond to allegations of harassment or harassing conduct.
For more information on harassment in the workplace, please visit: https://www.eeoc.gov/harassment.
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