WASHINGTONEqual Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Chair Jenny R. Yang announced the creation of a task force to address the issue of workplace harassment during a public hearing on the issue Jan. 14.
Ms. Yang said the task force, which will be co-chaired by commissioners Chai Feldblum and Victoria Lipnic, will convene experts from the employer community, workers' advocates, human resources experts and academics, among others, in an effort to identify effective strategies that prevent and remedy workplace harassment.
Through this task force we hope to better reach workers to ensure they know their rights and to better reach employers to promote best practices, Ms. Yang said, according to a statement issued by the agency on the hearing.
The EEOC is working to leverage our resources to have a greater impact on the persistent problem of workplace harassment, Ms. Yang said. By identifying underlying problems in workplaces and industries where we see recurring patterns of harassment, we are developing strategies that focus on targeted outreach and education as well as systemic enforcement to promote broader voluntary compliance.
In addition to worker advocates, speakers at the hearing included Patricia Wise, a partner with Toledo, Ohio-based law firm Niehaus Wise & Kalas Ltd., which represents employers, and is active in the Alexandria, Va.-based Society for Human Resource Management.
Prevention, according to Ms. Wise, is the best tool to eliminate harassment in the workplace. Employers should take steps to prevent harassment and should clearly communicate to employees that harassment will not be tolerated.
Other speakers at the meeting included Carol Miaskoff, acting associate legal counsel of the EEOC who said having a policy is insufficient if it is not communicated understandably to the workforce. In a workforce that includes many teens, the policy should be understandable to the average high school student, for example, Ms. Miaskoff said.
The EEOC can be reached at 131 M Street, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20507. Its website is at www.eeoc.gov.
This report appeared in Crain's Business Insurance magazine, a Chicago-based sister publication of Tire Business.