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Public comments sought by EEOC

New York companies and their employees will be able to provide feedback regarding a proposed enforcement guidance that addresses illegal workplace harassment under the federal anti-discrimination laws. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's guidance refers specifically to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. If the enforcement guidance is adopted, it will override four existing documents from the 1990s and a section of the EEOC Compliance Manual regarding harassment.

Harassment claims can be based on race, color, sex, national origin, disability, genetic information, religion and age, among other areas. There are a number of subjects related to the legal standards that apply to harassment claims that are addressed by the proposed enforcement guidance.

The guidance includes discourse regarding the EEOC's position on defining protected categories that pertain to sex-based harassment, showing how a plaintiff suffered harassment because of a protected characteristic and defining the range of claims of hostile workplaces. There is also discussion regarding the EEOC's view on employer liability standards, claims of systemic harassment and practices that have the potential for preventing and addressing workplace harassment. There are specific examples of conduct of what would or would not qualify as unlawful discrimination according to the covered laws. There are also citations of court decisions that interpret the covered law and evaluate how the laws are applied to certain facts by the courts.

Individuals who experience workplace discrimination should consult with an attorney who practices employment law. While courts are not bound by EEOC pronouncements, the agency often brings lawsuits on behalf of people who have been the victims of this type of behavior.

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