The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released a Press Release yesterday encouraging employers to take “concrete steps to change their workplace cultures to prevent harassment”.  The EEOC held a meeting yesterday at their headquarters in Washington D.C. as it has been 12 months since the #MeToo movement first exploded in the media in October 2016.  Long before the #MeToo movement gained momentum, the EEOC assembled a Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace to try to ascertain the progress made in the last 30 years of anti-harassment efforts.  This Special Task Force released a report in June 2016 in which they state that sexual harassment in the workplace is still a significant problem and that many of the employer awareness and educational efforts have done little to reduce or prevent it.

The EEOC released the final 2018 fiscal year data regarding its efforts to fight or prevent workplace harassment.  The report included data that showed a 13.6% increase in sexual harassment charges and nearly 50% increase in harassment lawsuits.  EEOC Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic and Select Task Force Co-Chair Chai R. Feldblum, stated that there needs to be a holistic approach to fighting and preventing workplace sexual harassment.  For there to be a real impact, there needs to be a fundamental cultural change where leadership is engaged and accountable for ensuring that the appropriate policies, procedure, and educational programs in place.  This is not an instance in which implementing one of those elements will have a meaningful impact.  The message for employers is that they need to do more.

The AAA has been tackling this issue head on over the last year by providing front-line supervisors and EMS leaders with a practical educational program aimed at investigating sexual harassment incidents in an EMS workplace.  We have held nearly ten EMS Supervisor Simlabs over the last twelve months all over the country.  The final SimLab of 2018 will be held in Charlotte, NC on November 15, 2018.  In this one-day workshop, attendees learn the law related to workplace harassment and how to approach and perform a workplace investigation from both a strategic and legal perspective, to ensure the best outcome for both employee and organization.

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