EEOC’s Efforts in Preventing Workplace Harassment

In recent years, the issue of workplace harassment has gained unprecedented attention. Many stories of sexual harassment that were once silenced have now come to light, creating a demand for change. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency responsible for enforcing the nation’s employment discrimination laws, has taken a leading role in addressing this pervasive problem. Through education, enforcement, and leadership, the EEOC is working tirelessly to prevent workplace harassment on multiple fronts.

Vigorously Enforced the Law to Combat Workplace Harassment

The EEOC has been relentless in its efforts to combat workplace harassment. In the past fiscal year, the agency filed 66 lawsuits challenging workplace harassment, with 41 of them specifically focused on sexual harassment. This represents a significant increase from the previous year, demonstrating the agency’s commitment to holding employers accountable.

Furthermore, charges filed with the EEOC alleging sexual harassment increased by 13.6 percent in fiscal year 2018. The agency also achieved a 23.6 percent increase in reasonable cause findings for harassment charges, signaling its dedication to thoroughly investigating and addressing these claims.

The EEOC’s determination to deliver justice is evident in its monetary recoveries. In FY 2018, the agency secured nearly $70 million in compensation for victims of sexual harassment, an increase from $47.5 million in the previous year. Notably, appeals of sexual harassment cases involving federal employees saw awards rise by over 180 percent.

Met the Heightened Demand for Information and Advice

Recognizing the critical need for information and guidance, the EEOC has responded by providing valuable resources. The sexual harassment page on the EEOC’s website experienced a doubling of hits, as individuals and employers sought knowledge on how to deal with workplace harassment effectively.

To address this demand, the EEOC developed a comprehensive guide titled “What to do if you believe you have been harassed at work.” This resource outlines the necessary steps individuals should take if they find themselves facing harassment in the workplace.

Additionally, the EEOC issued “Promising Practices for Preventing Harassment” to equip employers with strategies to reduce workplace harassment. The agency also conducted over 1,000 outreach events, reaching more than 115,000 individuals and employers, to educate them about harassment prevention. Acting Chair Lipnic and Commissioners Feldblum and Burrows led these efforts, sharing their expertise and recommendations for finding solutions to this pressing issue.

Promoted Respectful Workplaces

Creating a culture of respect in the workplace is essential to preventing harassment. In October 2017, the EEOC launched its “Respectful Workplaces” training, which focuses on teaching skills that promote respect and intervene when problematic behavior occurs. Over 9,800 employees and supervisors received training in Respectful Workplaces, contributing to the development of a healthier work environment.

The impact of the EEOC’s expertise in this area extends beyond its direct initiatives. Numerous organizations, such as the U.S. House of Representatives Administration Committee, Federal Judiciary Workplace Conduct Working Group, and National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, have sought the EEOC’s guidance as they revise their policies and training programs to combat workplace harassment.

Led by Example

The EEOC recognizes that true leadership comes from within. In November 2017, the agency revised its internal policies and procedures on the prohibition of harassing conduct in its own workplace. Acting Chair Lipnic established a Harassment Prevention Action Team to coordinate harassment prevention efforts across the agency’s offices and programs. Senior EEOC leadership also participated in the Respectful Workplaces training program, demonstrating their commitment to fostering a respectful and safe work environment.

Moving Forward

While the EEOC’s accomplishments in the fight against workplace harassment are substantial, the agency acknowledges that more work needs to be done. In the coming years, the EEOC plans to implement a new training program for its investigators, utilizing a cognitive interviewing approach to better support harassment victims. Additionally, the EEOC will launch an outreach campaign to encourage reporting and provide Respectful Workplaces training to all its staff members.

It is crucial to recognize that the EEOC cannot single-handedly solve the problem of workplace harassment. Achieving the goal of reducing harassment and creating respectful and safe workplaces requires the collective effort of society as a whole. Everyone must take responsibility and contribute to this ongoing endeavor.


Q: What is the EEOC’s role in preventing workplace harassment?

A: The EEOC plays a crucial role in preventing workplace harassment. The agency enforces the nation’s employment discrimination laws, educates workers and employers about harassment prevention, and investigates and resolves claims of workplace harassment.


The EEOC leads the way in preventing workplace harassment through its enforcement actions, educational initiatives, and leadership efforts. By vigorously enforcing the law, providing valuable resources and guidance, promoting respectful workplaces, and setting an example, the EEOC is driving progress in creating safer and more inclusive work environments. However, it is important to remember that eradicating workplace harassment requires everyone’s commitment and active participation. Together, we can make a difference and ensure that workplaces are free from harassment.