EEOC Publishes Updated Guidance on Harassment in the Workplace


“Harassment, both in-person and online, remains a serious issue in America’s workplaces. The EEOC’s updated guidance on harassment is a comprehensive resource that brings together best practices for preventing and remedying harassment and clarifies recent developments in the law.”

–Charlotte A. Burrows, EEOC Chair

On April 29, 2024, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) published its updated guidance on harassment in the workplace, “Enforcement Guidance on Harassment in the Workplace.” The new guidance updates and replaces EEOC’s previous guidance documents issued between 1987 and 1999 and provides a comprehensive resource on federal workplace harassment law.

Reasons for the EEOC Guidance Update

According to EEOC statistics, between 2016 and 2023, more than a third of all discrimination charges filed with EEOC included an allegation of harassment based on race, sex, disability, or another federally protected characteristic. In addition, approximately 35% of the 143 lawsuits filed by EEOC in 2023 included an allegation of harassment.

EEOC’s new guidance outlines the standards governing workplace harassment claims and defenses under the federal equal employment opportunity (EEO) statutes. These statutes prohibit work-related harassment based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions; sexual orientation; and gender identity), national origin, disability, genetic information, and age (40 or over).

EEOC designed the guidance to serve as “a resource for employers, employees, and practitioners; for EEOC staff and the staff of other agencies that investigate, adjudicate, or litigate harassment claims or conduct outreach on the topic of workplace harassment; and for courts deciding harassment issues.

What’s In the New Harassment Guidance

The new guidance includes over 70 examples illustrating a wide variety of protected classifications, including scenarios involving older workers, immigrant workers, and survivors of gender-based violence. It depicts garden variety workplace harassment situations involving co-workers and supervisors, but also provides guidance concerning workplace harassment involving customers, contractors, and other third parties, as well as issues of systemic harassment.

In addition, the guidance addresses the growth of virtual workplace environments and the increasing impact of digital technology, electronic communications, and social media on workplace harassment issues.

Along with the lengthy guidance document, EEOC also has provided additional educational resources, including a “Summary of Key Provisions,” a Q and A for employees, and a fact sheet for small businesses, along with other EEOC resources on workplace harassment.

Next Steps

Like other EEOC guidance documents, this new guidance on harassment is a useful tool for employers looking to understand and address harassment in the workplace. Businesses needing advice on harassment-related issues should contact Woods Rogers’s Labor and Employment team.


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