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EEOC publishing new enforcement guidance

Pennsylvania employees are subjected to workplace harassment for many different reasons. If they are harassed at work for being a member of a protected category, they could have a cause of action against their employer for unlawful discrimination. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission publishes enforcement guidance to help educate employers about what behavior constitutes illegal harassment and discrimination.

The agency is working on a new enforcement guidance document that could supersede four it had previously written. The new document will address workplace harassment that is outlawed by anti-discrimination laws, specifically Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. The four existing documents that it will replace were published in the 1990s.

Before the EEOC publishes its new enforcement guidance, it is seeking public comments about the issues that will be addressed The EEOC will be using the new document to more clearly define the categories of people that are protected from workplace harassment and define who is protected from sex-based harassment. The EEOC will also explain the standards that it uses for determining an employer's liability for workplace harassment.

While courts are not bound to follow EEOC holdings, they do take workplace discrimination seriously when the victim is a member of a protected class. People who feel that they have been unfairly targeted, whether during the interview or hiring stages or after they have been employed, may want to meet with an attorney to see what recourse may be available to them.

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