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EEOC urges improved training against sexual harassment

Far too many people in Alameda County continue to face sexual harassment on the job despite the rise of the #MeToo movement and the public conversation about unwanted sexual advances at work. The acting chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, said that this kind of inappropriate workplace behavior continues to be pervasive and persistent, a common topic of complaints received by the commission. She noted that she was appalled by the volume of sexual harassment complaints received by the agency, indicating the scope of the issue.

In response to the complaints received as well as the public conversation about sexual harassment, the EEOC is urging employers to take action to make their workplaces safer places for women workers. One survey of professionals found that 70 percent were either the victims of harassment or witnesses to it. In June 2016, the commission issued a report on workplace harassment, instructing employers on how to better address problems on the job. The commission recommends a focus on how employees behave toward one another as well as supporting bystander interventions and improved education for employees.

Some studies indicate that the #MeToo movement has led to progress. One survey of 1,000 executives noted that 24 percent said they were now more careful about the language they use at work. Sixteen percent said they avoided specific sexual topics or jokes on the job while 9 percent said that they now refrain from touching their employees. More employers also sought to beef up their training programs.

However, too many companies don't act to protect employees from unwelcome and unwanted sexual behavior on the job. Instead, they may retaliate against the employees who complain. An employment lawyer may help workers who have been subject to sexual harassment on the job to pursue legal action to seek justice and accountability.

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