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Press Release 06-18-2024

EEOC Releases Promising Practices for Preventing Harassment in the Construction Industry

WASHINGTON – The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today released Promising Practices for Preventing Harassment in the Construction Industry, a document that highlights key recommendations industry leaders can take to combat harassment in construction.

EEOC Vice Chair Jocelyn Samuels discussed this document at a roundtable hosted by the White House in which other federal agency leaders, employers, trade unions, and others participated. At the roundtable, companies receiving federal grant funding as part of the CHIPS and Science Act discussed their commitments under the CHIPS Women in Construction Framework under which companies voluntarily commit to maintain healthy, safe, and respectful workplaces and prevent and address harassment.

The document supports the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) for fiscal years 2024-2028, which, in part, focuses on combatting systemic harassment, and eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring, including for groups that are underrepresented in industries like construction.

The document identifies core practices that will help prevent and address harassment in the construction industry: committed and engaged leadership; consistent and demonstrated accountability; strong and comprehensive harassment policies; trusted and accessible complaint procedures; and regular, interactive training tailored to the audience and the organization.

“The unique structure of construction jobs leaves workers especially vulnerable to workplace harassment,” said Samuels. “The strategies outlined in our new Promising Practices document will help all construction industry stakeholders identify and take concrete steps to effectively prevent harassment, address it if it occurs, and create a worksite culture that promotes equal opportunity for all workers.”

The document identifies the importance of committed leadership as a solution to workplace harassment. One promising practice for project owners, including local and state governments, is to require plans to address harassment in contract bids.

Because construction worksites can have workers employed by multiple entities, another example of a promising practice is for general contractors to provide an anonymous hotline to receive complaints for all onsite workers, in addition to confirming that every subcontractor has implemented its own complaint channel.

Also, it discusses risk factors in the industry that increase the likelihood of harassment, such as workforces that are primarily male; workplaces where there is pressure to conform to traditional stereotypes; and workplaces that are decentralized. These factors may be exacerbated by the presence of multiple employers on a worksite and the cyclical, project-based nature of construction.

“At a time when job opportunities in construction are rapidly growing thanks to historic federal investments, significant harassment and discrimination still hinder equal employment opportunity in the industry,” said EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows. “The EEOC is committed to removing barriers to equal opportunity, and these promising practices, together with the agency’s updated Enforcement Guidance on Harassment in the Workplace, provide resources to employers to help prevent and respond to harassment.”

The promising practices document follows a 2023 report issued by EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows, “Building For the Future: Advancing Equal Employment in the Construction Industry,” that examined discrimination based on race, national origin, and sex in the industry through the lens of EEOC cases, witness testimony from a 2022 EEOC hearing, and research. The report, which contains findings and offers next steps, identified a number of barriers that lead to underrepresentation of women, people of color, and other groups in the construction industry.

The EEOC prevents and remedies unlawful employment discrimination and advances equal opportunity for all. More information is available at Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.