EEOC Reconvenes Harassment Task Force, Guidance Remains in Limbo

June 15, 2018

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Select Task Force on Harassment heard recommendations from witnesses on how to prevent workplace harassment, focusing on non-disclosure and arbitration agreements, training mandates, and examples from groups who have taken action to address sexual harassment in the workplace.

Public policy recommendations by witness included prohibiting mandatory non-disclosure and arbitration agreements, requiring the disclosure of the number of claims and settlements, and creating personal liability for Title VII harassment violations.

Notably, the EEOC has not yet seen a significant uptick in sexual harassment charges in the wake of the #MeToo movement.  That could change, however.  The Commission filed seven lawsuits this week focusing on sexual harassment.

Meanwhile, the EEOC’s final harassment guidance remains under review at the Office of Management and Budget and may be on hold until President Trump‘s nominees for the two Republican seats on the five-member commission are confirmed, which may not happen until next year.

The EEOC and NLRB also continue to be in talks about how to draw a line between workplace harassment under Title VII and offensive conduct that is protected under the NLRA, according to Acting EEOC Chair Victoria Lipnic (R).

Outlook:  According to EEOC Commissioner Chai Feldblum, the Task Force is beginning the “second stage” of its work, in which it will look at “some of the thorny legal and policy questions” surrounding harassment and dig “deeper into creative ideas to prevent harassment—whether through practices focused on a particular industry, a particular workplace, or the use of technology.”  It is unclear at this point whether the task force will publish a second report.