November 8, 2017
Authored by: Julie O'Dell and Madeline Klebanov
The wave of sexual harassment allegations against high profile media moguls such as Harvey Weinstein, Bill O’Reilly, and Mark Halperin has put sexual harassment issues in the public spotlight. All employers, even those not in the “biz,” should take this opportunity to review their sexual harassment training and policies and consider ways to improve their workplace culture.
In a recent exclusive interview with Law360, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) acting Chair Victoria Lipnic reiterated the EEOC’s focus on sexual harassment and retaliation across a wide range of industries. See Law360, “We See This Everywhere, EEOC Chair Says of Weinstein,” Braden Campbell (Oct. 24, 2017), available at https://www.law360.com/employment/articles/977719/-we-see-this-everywhere-eeoc-chair-says-of-weinstein?nl_pk=2905a360-50ef-439a-8c8c-a294a6bf3896&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=employment. Lipnic’s interview highlights the importance for employers to review their policies and take affirmative steps to create a positive work environment.
According to Lipnic, “We see this everywhere. This happens to women in workplaces all over the place. You look at the companies that, just last year where the EEOC brought suits. It’s food processing plants, a correctional facility, a car dealership, restaurants, agriculture. It’s across industries.” She discussed an EEOC task force, which concluded in a June 2016 report that approximately 75% of women who experience sexual harassment do not complain internally. Discussing deterrents to reporting, she stated, “Most people, particularly in terms of sex harassment, are not going to come to the EEOC and file a charge. Only about 30 percent of women who experience harassment ever complain internally.”
In the interview, Lipnic discussed steps employers can take to