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EEOC proposes new anti-harassment guidance

The EEOC is asking Texas residents and others to comment on its proposed enforcement guidance related to unlawful harassment at work. If the guidance is adopted by the agency, it would replace guidance that was issued in the 1990s and a segment of the EEOC Compliance Manual on sexual harassment. The guidance would provide clear examples of what would and would not constitute harassment at work in the EEOC's opinion.

Among the topics that would be covered in the new guidance would be creating a definition of protected classes. The guidance would also potentially help with issues related to causation, define the scope of a hostile work environment and provide a clearer opinion on employer liability standards. Citations will be provided to court cases interpreting covered laws, and the guidance will include an analysis of facts a court used to come to its conclusions.

The EEOC says that the guidance will provide concrete examples in instances where the group agrees with how the law was interpreted by the court. In cases where the law may have been applied inconsistently, the EEOC will explain its position on the issue and why it holds that position. The new guidance is based on a June 2016 report that encourages employers to create a culture where harassment is not tolerated.

Those who feel as if they have been the victim of workplace discrimination may wish to talk to an attorney. Someone who was denied a promotion or raise because of his or her sexual orientation or religious beliefs may have been subjected to a hostile workplace. This may be true even if adhering to that belief violates a company dress code or may not be appealing to clients or customers.

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