The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has provided additional time for public comment on its recently-issued proposed guidelines on unlawful harassment.  The 75-page draft, which issued on January 9, 2017, expands upon existing interpretations of many aspects of workplace harassment, including prohibited bases for harassment, conduct constituting illegal harassment, the role of social media, and the legal standards for harassment claims.  On a practical level, most notable to employers may be the EEOC’s proposal for enhanced requirements in employer EEO training.

The proposed guidelines come after an EEOC report indicated that incidents and claims of harassment at work are on the rise.  The guidelines, once finalized, will not have the force of law, but they will influence the EEOC’s analysis of harassment charges and prosecution of harassment litigation.  EEOC guidelines are also often cited to courts as persuasive interpretation of Title VII and other anti-discrimination laws enforced by the EEOC.

The EEOC has extended the period for public comment on the proposed guidelines until March 21, 2017.  Employers wishing to remark on the draft guidelines can do so electronically or by mail to: Public Input, EEOC, Executive Officer, 131 M St. NE, Washington D.C. 20507.