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EEOC’s New Enforcement Guidance on Harassment in the Workplace

The EEOC’s newly released enforcement guidance regarding harassment in the workplace marks a significant update, the first since 1999. This comprehensive guidance addresses various forms of harassment and sets out clearer standards for what constitutes illegal conduct under federal anti-discrimination laws, specifically addressing modern workforce issues such as remote work and digital communication.

The guidance clarifies that harassment based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and expressions such as misgendering—using a name or pronoun inconsistent with a person’s gender identity—is considered harassment.

It also addresses harassment in virtual environments, recognizing that comments and behaviors in digital communications can contribute to a hostile work environment.

Additionally, it provides updated examples and definitions, recognizing harassment based on race, color, pregnancy, childbirth, and medical conditions independently​. The guidance is meant to serve as a resource for employers, employees, and practitioners; for EEOC staff and the staff of other agencies that investigate, adjudicate, or litigate harassment claims or conduct outreach on the topic of workplace harassment; and for courts deciding harassment issues.