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Employment Law Blog
James Tarquin, P.A
As part of our commitment to assist and educate employees in fighting back against the abusive employment practices of employers, we offer a broad range of information about employment law issues in our employment blog.

Harassment in the Construction Industry? The Government Has a Plan for That.

harassment in construction

Earlier this month, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released a guidance document aimed at helping leaders in the construction sector fight employment harassment in the industry. As our Marion County, Florida, employment harassment lawyers well know, workers in the male-dominated construction industry are likely to experience harassment on the job based on their sex, gender, sexual orientation, or failure to conform to traditional gender roles and stereotypes. With the release of this guidance, the federal government shows that it recognizes the serious nature of the problem and the obligation of employers to prevent it, identify it, stop it and correct it. Below we discuss the EEOC document Promising Practices for Preventing Harassment in the Construction Industry and some of the key recommendations it makes to halt this insidious practice.

Document Advises Employers to Train Staff on Harassment Policies and Complaint Procedures

On June 18th, the EEOC released Promising Practices for Preventing Harassment in the Construction Industry. The document was discussed at a roundtable hosted by the White House and joined by leaders from various federal agencies along with employers, trade union representatives, and other construction industry players. Although key, the document itself is only one component in a broader EEOC framework aimed at combatting systemic harassment in the workforce.

Of the many core practices identified by Promising Practices, several that stand out include “strong and comprehensive harassment policies; trusted and accessible complaint procedures; and regular, interactive training tailored to the audience and the organization.” These recommendations are notable as they are more than just good advice; employers that lack harassment policies, complaint procedures, and trained staff put themselves at risk of liability for harassment that occurs to members of their organization. Conversely, employers that have anti-harassment policies and procedures in place and who follow those policies and procedures can sometimes avoid liability for wrongful actions taken by certain employees.

Promising Practices Include Bid Specifications, Complaint Hotlines

Construction workers are “especially vulnerable to workplace harassment,” according to EEOC Vice Chair Jocelyn Samuels who discussed Promising Practices at the recent roundtable. Samuels said that the strategies outlined in the document would help employers “to effectively prevent harassment, address it if it occurs, and create a worksite culture that promotes equal opportunity for all workers.” One of the promising practices, for example, would be for project owners to mandate that plans to address harassment should be included in contract bids. Expect that government contractors, at least, will start including this requirement in the bid process in the near future.

Another promising practice outlined in the document is for general contractors to create a hotline to receive anonymous complaints while also ensuring that each subcontractor has created a complaint channel as well. This practice takes note of the fact that large construction projects often have multiple employers on-site, creating a confusing situation for workers subjected to harassment on the job.

Promising Practices Identifies Risk Factors for Harassment in the Construction Industry

In 2016, an EEOC Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace identified twelve risk factors for harassment to occur in certain industries. Appendix A to Promising Practices sets out several that are “particularly applicable” in the construction industry:

  • A homogenous workforce with a lack of diversity, including women and certain people of color

  • Pressure to conform to traditional sex/gender stereotypes, or harassment for not conforming, such as women who step outside gender norms to prove they are “tough enough” to work in construction

  • Decentralized workplaces where the corporate offices and HR departments are distantly removed from the worksite where the harassment occurs

  • Worksites with multiple employers, noted above as typical of any construction project, with a general contractor, many subcontractors, independent contractors, and temp workers assigned from staffing agencies

  • Cyclical, project-based work with seasonal downturns and variable demand, which translates to a small core of “regulars” supplemented by new or temporary workers who are particularly susceptible to harassment.

Marion County Employment Harassment Lawyers

Based in Ocala and representing workers throughout Florida, our Marion County employment harassment attorneys have dedicated their practice to vindicating the rights of employment harassment victims. If you have experienced employment harassment or have questions about your rights as an employment harassment victim, please contact our office for a free consultation with our Marion County employment harassment lawyers. Our employee rights law firm takes employment harassment cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that there are no attorney’s fees incurred unless there is a recovery and our attorney’s fees come solely from the monetary award that you recover.

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