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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission may change focus on other areas, but it is still expected to pursue sexual harassment.
“Sexual harassment issues have always been very important to the EEOC,” said Gerald L. Maatman Jr., a partner with law firm Seyfarth Shaw L.L.P. in Chicago. “I don’t see that changing.”
“I do think there’s an argument to be made that it is too much of a political hot potato for them to cut back on that,” said Richard B. Cohen, a partner with FisherBroyles L.L.P. in New York.
“It’s the lowest-hanging fruit. No one supports” cutting back on that, said Eric B. Meyer, a partner with Dilworth Paxson L.L.P. in Philadelphia. People generally agree sexual harassment “is abhorrent, so I wouldn’t expect the EEOC to take the position it’s going to dial back.”
Robin E. Shea, a partner with Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete L.L.P. in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, noted that in June 2016, an EEOC task force cochaired by Democrat Chai R. Feldblum and Republican Victoria A. Lipnic, who is now acting EEOC chair, prepared a report on workplace harassment. It says workplace harassment too often goes unreported, and efforts to stop it “must start with and involve the highest level of management of the company.”
Employers should not look the other way when their “superstars” engage in harassment and should track allegations to ensure they don’t have serial harassers in their workplaces, said the commissioners, who also spoke at the recent American Bar Association Labor and Employment Law Conference in Washington.
The EEOC is also expected to continue to pursue “straight” discrimination cases involving interactions between men and women under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as opposed to LGBTQ cases, said Ms. Shea.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is likely to soon have a 3-2 Republican majority, is expected to change its processes and policies to reflect a more pro-business stance under the Trump administration, experts say.