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Thanks to the EEOC’s new poster, sexual harassment is easier to report


The new “Know Your Rights: Employment Discrimination is Illegal" poster released on October 19 by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) includes a feature that makes it easier for employees to report discrimination.

The poster includes a QR code that goes directly to a website with instructions on how to report a charge of discrimination. The mandatory “Know Your Rights” poster, which replaces the “Equal Employment Opportunity is the Law” poster, also explains employee rights in plain language and may open the eyes of some employees that the harassing behavior they are witnessing or experiencing is indeed unlawful discrimination.

The poster uses a bulleted format and plain language to present information about employment discrimination and also:

  • Lists harassment as a prohibited form of discrimination.
  • Clarifies that discrimination based on pregnancy and related conditions, sexual orientation, or gender identity are all forms of sex discrimination.

External reporting avenue

If your company’s response to employee claims of sexual harassment in the past has been to pressure victims to deal with it internally or to simply ignore it and hope it goes away, that QR code may be cause for alarm.

In the past, employees may have been uncertain about where and how to report harassment, believing their complaint would be ignored, or fearing for their jobs if they went to their supervisor or HR department. The QR code on the new poster, however, provides an avenue for reporting harassment without going through internal channels.

Employees shouldn’t need to scan the poster to report harassment

To lower the chances of employees scanning the QR code on the EEOC posting and contacting the agency to report harassment, management at every level, from frontline supervisors to HR to top executives, must lead by example to reinforce a culture of trust and respect.

Associates need to see that sexual harassment of any kind will not be tolerated at any level in the organization, and complaints will be taken seriously by management.

Leaders should make it clear that even a small instance of misconduct will be addressed appropriately before it violates the law. It’s important to provide multiple channels for reporting harassment internally, and if a complaint is brought to the attention of management, it should be investigated promptly.

Key to remember: The new “Know Your Rights” poster has a QR code that can be scanned to report harassment. This should be a last resort for employees who have witnessed or experienced harassment. Employers should provide multiple channels for reporting harassment internally, and if a complaint is brought to the attention of management, it should be investigated promptly.