U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
As many employers recognize, adopting proactive measures may prevent harassment from occurring. Employers implement a wide variety of creative and innovative approaches to prevent and correct harassment.
The Report of the Co-Chairs of EEOC's Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace ("Report") identified five core principles that have generally proven effective in preventing and addressing harassment:
The Report includes checklists based on these principles to assist employers in preventing and responding to workplace harassment. The promising practices identified in this document are based primarily on these checklists. Although these practices are not legal requirements under federal employment discrimination laws, they may enhance employers' compliance efforts.
The cornerstone of a successful harassment prevention strategy is the consistent and demonstrated commitment of senior leaders to create and maintain a culture in which harassment is not tolerated. This commitment may be demonstrated by, among other things:
In particular, we recommend that senior leaders ensure that their organizations:
In addition, we recommend that senior leaders exercise appropriate oversight of the harassment policy, complaint system, training, and any related preventive and corrective efforts, which may include:
To maximize effectiveness, senior leaders could seek feedback about their anti-harassment efforts. For example, senior leaders could consider:
A comprehensive, clear harassment policy that is regularly communicated to all employees is an essential element of an effective harassment prevention strategy. A comprehensive harassment policy includes, for example:
In addition, effective written harassment policies are, for example:
An effective harassment complaint system welcomes questions, concerns, and complaints; encourages employees to report potentially problematic conduct early; treats alleged victims, complainants, witnesses, alleged harassers, and others with respect; operates promptly, thoroughly, and impartially; and imposes appropriate consequences for harassment or related misconduct, such as retaliation.
For example, an effective harassment complaint system:
We recommend that organizations ensure that the employees responsible for receiving, investigating, and resolving complaints or otherwise implementing the harassment complaint system, among other things:
Leadership, accountability, and strong harassment policies and complaint systems are essential components of a successful harassment prevention strategy, but only if employees are aware of them. Regular, interactive, comprehensive training of all employees may help ensure that the workforce understands organizational rules, policies, procedures, and expectations, as well as the consequences of misconduct.
Harassment training may be most effective if it is, among other things:
In addition, harassment training may be most effective when it is tailored to the organization and audience. Accordingly, when developing training, the daily experiences and unique characteristics of the work, workforce, and workplace are important considerations.
Effective harassment training for all employees includes, for example:
Because supervisors and managers have additional responsibilities, they may benefit from additional training. Employers may also find it helpful to include non-managerial and non-supervisory employees who exercise authority, such as team leaders.
Effective harassment training for supervisors and managers includes, for example:
To help prevent conduct from rising to the level of unlawful workplace harassment, employers also may find it helpful to consider and implement new forms of training, such as workplace civility or respectful workplace training and/or bystander intervention training. In addition, employers may find it helpful to meet with employees as needed to discuss issues related to current or upcoming events and to share relevant resources.
 See, e.g., EEOC, Select Task Force Meeting of October 22, 2015 - Workplace Harassment: Promising Practices to Prevent Workplace Harassment, https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/task_force/harassment/10-22-15/index.cfm. Promising practices may vary based on the characteristics of the workplace and/or workforce.
 See Chai R. Feldblum & Victoria A. Lipnic, EEOC, Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace, Report of Co-Chairs Chai R. Feldblum & Victoria A. Lipnic (2016), https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/task_force/harassment/upload/report.pdf [hereinafter Select Task Force Co-Chairs' Report].
 This document focuses primarily on several practices identified in Select Task Force testimony and the subsequent Select Task Force Co-Chair Report. While EEOC believes that these practices may help employers prevent and address harassment, these practices do not represent an exhaustive list of promising preventative and corrective actions. We encourage employers to continue to develop, implement, and share additional promising practices.
 We note, however, that refraining from taking certain actions recommended here as promising practices may increase an employer's liability risk in certain circumstances. For example, failing to develop and implement an adequate anti-harassment policy and complaint procedure may preclude an employer from establishing an affirmative defense to a supervisory harassment complaint, or a defense to a coworker harassment complaint.
Moreover, state and/or local laws may impose certain harassment prevention-related responsibilities on covered employers that are similar to specific promising practices described in this Appendix; failing to comply with those laws may result in liability. See, e.g., Cal. Gov. Code §§ 12950 - 12950.1 (West 2017) (requiring California employers to provide information to employees regarding sexual harassment, internal complaint procedures, and remedies; and requiring California private sector employers with at least 50 employees and all California public sector employers to provide sexual harassment training to supervisors); Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 46a-54(15) - (16) (West 2017) (requiring Connecticut employers with at least three employees to prominently post information about sexual harassment prohibitions and remedies, requiring Connecticut employers with at least 50 employees to provide sexual harassment training to supervisors, and requiring Connecticut public sector employers to provide discrimination training to supervisory and nonsupervisory employees);Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 26, § 807 (2017) (requiring Maine employers to prominently post information about sexual harassment and the external complaint process, and to annually provide employees with a written notice regarding sexual harassment and internal and external complaint processes; and requiring Maine employers with at least 15 employees to provide sexual harassment training to employees and supervisors); Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 151B, § 3A (West 2017) (requiring Massachusetts employers with at least six employees to develop a written sexual harassment policy and to provide the policy to new employees upon hire, and to all employees annually).
 For example, in addition to regularly disseminating the organization's harassment policy and complaint procedure, senior leaders could notify employees about relevant policies and resources in response to high profile events.
 See, e.g., Patti Perez, Written Testimony for the October 22, 2015 Meeting of the EEOC Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace, https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/task_force/harassment/10-22-15/perez.cfm [hereinafter Perez Task Force Testimony] (observing that companies that are committed to preventing inappropriate conduct develop, implement, and incorporate "robust" and "creative" programs into "the fabric of their being").
For example, leaders could direct human resources staff to request information from supervisory and managerial applicants and/or their references about applicants' demonstrated commitment to and experience with enforcing harassment policies and other EEO policies, practices, and procedures. Leaders could also instruct HR to ensure that employee orientation and training material includes information about the organization's harassment policy, complaint procedure, and any related rules, policies, and expectations. In addition, leaders could ensure that enforcement of, and compliance with, the organization's harassment policy and related policies and procedures is included in executive competencies and performance plans for employees with supervisory or managerial responsibilities.
 See Select Task Force Co-Chairs' Report, supra note 2, at 25-30, 83-88 (identifying select risk factors for harassment and proposing strategies to reduce the risk of harassment); see also, e.g., Preventing Unlawful Workplace Harassment in California, Soc'y for Human Res. Mgmt. (Apr. 16, 2016) (noting that human resources and information technology staff can monitor workplace communications for prohibited or unacceptable conduct, such as transmission of pornography, obscenities, and threats); Alexander et al., United States Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences, Best Practices in Sexual Harassment Policy and Assessment 29 (2005) [hereinafter Army Research Institute Best Practices Report] (explaining a practice at one company in which Human Resources staff and managers make unannounced visits during night shifts, which tend to have less managerial supervision and therefore greater opportunity for harassment).
 See, e.g., Heidi-Jane Olguin, Written Testimony for the October 22, 2015 Meeting of the EEOC Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace, https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/task_force/harassment/10-22-15/olguin.cfm [hereinafter Olguin Task Force Testimony] (noting that senior leadership involvement is "crucial" in "set[ting] the tone for the entire organization" and describing an organization in which corporate executives were promptly notified of harassment complaints (assuming no conflict of interest), updated about investigation determinations, and involved in prevention analysis).
For example, organizations could include harassment prevention and corrective activity, as well as other equal employment opportunity-related information, in reports submitted to Boards of Directors or similar advisory or oversight entities. Employers should consult with legal counsel as necessary regarding any relevant legal considerations, such as confidentiality restrictions associated with complaints or disciplinary action.
 See Olguin Task Force Testimony, supra note 9 (explaining that appropriate acknowledgement of well-handled complaints - such as by privately praising complainants and managers who promptly reported complaints - may help create a compliance-oriented culture, and noting that senior leaders' willingness to critically examine and "aggressively deal with" managers who participate in harassment or who refrain from properly reporting harassment may enhance workplace morale and productivity).
 See, e.g., Perez Task Force Testimony, supra note 7 (describing a company that tracked complaint trends, discovered multiple complaints of racial harassment and discrimination, and implemented a training program to address the perception of race-based conduct); Army Research Institute Best Practices Report, supra note 8, at 30 (describing a company's efforts to measure the success of its sexual harassment policy, including tracking sexual harassment questions and allegations and conducting periodic employee surveys that included questions regarding sexual harassment).
When evaluating the effectiveness of harassment prevention and correction strategies, it may be helpful for organizations to carefully analyze complaint trends. A relatively high number of internal complaints may signify that harassment has occurred or was perceived to have occurred, but may also indicate employees' awareness of and confidence in the internal complaint process. See, e.g., Perez Task Force Testimony, supra note 7 (discussing a company that perceives increases in internal complaints positively as a "testament to the comfort and trust employees put in the [complaint] system"). A relatively low number of internal complaints may result from employees' lack of awareness or trust in the complaint process, or, alternatively, from the absence of harassing conduct in the organization. Organizations may find it helpful to solicit information from employees in anonymous surveys, harassment training sessions, or other settings in which employees may feel comfortable, regarding their awareness of and confidence in the organization's harassment policies and complaint procedures. Organizations could also solicit suggestions from employees about how to enhance employees' knowledge of and faith in the organization's harassment prevention and correction efforts.
 See, e.g., Select Task Force Co-Chairs' Report, supra note 2, at 33 (addressing the development and use of climate surveys to assess perceptions of harassment among employees and members of the military).
 It may be helpful to explain and/or provide examples of the non-employees covered by the policy, who may include individuals who interact with the organization's employees during the course of business, such as delivery or repair workers, security guards, and food service workers, as well as individuals otherwise affiliated with the organization, such as members of Boards of Directors or similar advisory or oversight entities.
 Federal law prohibits workplace harassment based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability, and genetic information. State and/or local laws may prohibit workplace harassment on additional bases. See, e.g., Cal. Gov. Code § 12940(a) (West 2017) (prohibiting workplace harassment based on, among other things, marital status and military and veteran status); D.C. Code Ann. § 2-1402.11 (West 2017) (prohibiting workplace harassment based on, among other things, marital status, personal appearance, family responsibilities, political affiliation, and matriculation); Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 37.2202 (West 2017) (prohibiting workplace harassment based on, among other things, height, weight, and marital status); N.J. Stat. Ann. § 10:5-12 (West 2017) (prohibiting workplace harassment based on, among other things, marital status, civil union status, domestic partnership status, and military service); Wis. Stat. Ann. § 111.321 (West 2017) (prohibiting workplace harassment based on, among other things, arrest or conviction records, marital status, and military service). Employers may wish to consult with legal counsel as necessary to ensure that their harassment policies cover, at a minimum, all applicable legally protected bases.
 To encourage employees to share and obtain information about harassment, employers may find it helpful to provide a process, such as a phone line or website, that enables employees (anonymously or identified, at their discretion) to ask questions or share concerns about harassment.
 For example, the National Labor Relations Act restricts the circumstances under which employers may require employees to keep information shared or obtained during ongoing disciplinary investigations confidential. See, e.g., Banner Health System d/b/a Banner Estrella Medical Center, 362 NLRB 137, 2015 WL 4179691, at *3 (2015) (holding that employers may restrict employee discussions regarding discipline or ongoing disciplinary investigations involving themselves or their coworkers only if employers can establish a "legitimate and substantial business justification that outweighs employees' Section 7 rights"), enforced in part, 851 F.3d 35, 40 (D.C. Cir. 2017) (describing employees' right to discuss investigations with coworkers as "settled Board precedent" (quoting Inova Health Sys. v. NLRB, 795 F.3d 68, 85 (D.C. Cir. 2015))).
 Small businesses may be able to prevent and correct harassment without the use of formal, written harassment policies, though they may develop and use such policies at their discretion. For example, small business owners may verbally inform employees that harassment is prohibited; encourage employees to report harassment promptly; advise employees that harassment may be reported directly to the owner; conduct a prompt, thorough, impartial investigation; and take swift and appropriate corrective action. For additional information about how small businesses can prevent and address harassment, see EEOC, Frequently Asked Questions #5: How can I prevent harassment?, https://www.eeoc.gov/employers/smallbusiness/faq/how_can_i_prevent_harassment.cfm (last visited Nov. 20, 2017); EEOC, Tips for Small Businesses: Harassment Policy Tips, https://www.eeoc.gov/employers/smallbusiness/checklists/harassment_policy_tips.cfm (last visited Nov. 20, 2017).
 It may also be helpful for employers to periodically determine whether to translate the policy and complaint system into additional languages as a result of any changes in workforce composition and employees' linguistic abilities.
 See, e.g., Army Research Institute Best Practices Report, supra note 8, at 35 (noting the importance of a coordinated communications campaign to disseminate information about the harassment policy to employees, including policy distribution and strategic, sequenced use of a variety of communication methods and strategies, including bulletin board postings, newsletter and magazine articles, training sessions, and internal website postings); Olguin Task Force Testimony, supra note 9 (suggesting that distributing pens or magnets with the complaint hotline phone number or website address may help remind employees about their complaint filing options); cf. Perez Task Force Testimony, supra note 7 (describing a company that posted the diversity program mission statement in every elevator in the corporate office).
Employers may need to take additional steps to ensure that employees who work off-site or outside of regular business hours, or who otherwise may have limited access to the organization's employee handbook, internal website, or relevant officials, receive information about harassment policies and complaint systems, participate in harassment training, and are able to communicate with relevant officials. For example, employers could include information about the policy and complaint procedure with employees' schedules or paychecks; schedule training at a time and location convenient for these employees, if possible, or offer online training; provide contact information for appropriate individuals and/or offices;and ensure that employees receive prompt responses to questions, concerns, and complaints.
 See, e.g., Olguin Task Force Testimony, supra note 9 (describing a "multifaceted" complaint system as "critical," and recommending that organizations provide multilingual complaint hotlines and online complaint systems, in addition to traditional management and Human Resources Department complaint options). Smaller organizations may have fewer avenues of complaint available, due to their size, but may still consider designating multiple individuals to receive harassment complaints, if possible.
 See, e.g., HR Specialist, Preventing and Handling Workplace Harassment of Teen Workers, Ill. Emp't Law 7, 7 (2012) (observing that teenagers may not be comfortable discussing harassment and recommending that employers train supervisors to be receptive to harassment complaints from teenage workers' parents).
 Organizations that allow employees to submit anonymous complaints telephonically, online, or through some other process, may find it helpful to include a summary of this information in an introductory message for employees, while recognizing that anonymous complainants may not provide all of the requested information.
 To address potential Privacy Act concerns related to sharing corrective or disciplinary action with complainants, federal agencies may either: (1) maintain harassment complaint records that include information about corrective or disciplinary action by complainants' names; or (2) ensure that the agency's complaint records system includes a routine use permitting disclosure of corrective or disciplinary action to complainants.
 See, e.g., Perez Task Force Testimony, supra note 7 (describing a company that provides "comprehensive investigation and conflict resolution training" to internal investigators annually that includes, among other things, information about how to recognize and eliminate implicit or unconscious bias in investigations).
 To facilitate participation and communication and to ensure that relevant information is shared with the appropriate audience, organizations may find it helpful to train employees, managers, and Human Resources staff separately. See, e.g., Olguin Task Force Testimony, supra note 9 (noting that this approach may enhance participation and enable organizations to obtain information about potential compliance issues).
 See EEOC, Best Practices of Private Sector Employers sections 2.B, 2.G, 3.F (1997), https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/task_reports/best_practices.cfm (identifying several creative dispute prevention and resolution strategies used by employers).
 See, e.g., Army Research Institute Best Practices Report, supra note 8, at 29 (noting a company that designated several workers with long-standing positive reputations who were perceived as trustworthy and good listeners as points of contact for their fellow employees, and trained those workers about how to refer sexual harassment complaints to Human Resources).
 Broad workplace civility rules that may be interpreted to restrict employees' conduct and/or speech may raise issues under the National Labor Relations Act. Employers may wish to consult with legal counsel prior to implementing training and/or policies to ensure that they do so in a legally compliant manner.
See also Select Task Force Co-Chairs' Report, supra note 2, at 54-58 (describing workplace civility and bystander intervention training, and noting that such trainings "show significant promise for preventing harassment in the workplace"); Lilia Cortina, Written Testimony for the June 20, 2016 Commission Meeting, https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/meetings/6-20-16/cortina.cfm (describing and providing examples of workplace civility training); Dorothy J. Edwards, Written Testimony for the October 22, 2015 Meeting of the EEOC Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace, https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/task_force/harassment/10-22-15/edwards.cfm (describing bystander intervention training Green Dot); Melissa Emmal, Written Testimony for the October 22, 2015 Meeting of the EEOC Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace, https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/task_force/harassment/10-22-15/emmal.cfm (describing the successful implementation of Green Dot training in Anchorage).