MCLE Self-Study: Guidelines for Responding to Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: An Update
By Amy Oppenheimer and Alezah Trigueros
Amy Oppenheimer is an attorney and retired administrative law judge whose law firm focuses on workplace investigations. She has written a book about investigations, and testifies as an expert witness on employer practices in responding to, and investigating, harassment. She is also the founder and past-president of the board of the Association of Workplace Investigators (AWI), and served on the DFEH’s Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace. Alezah Trigueros is an attorney who has been conducting impartial workplace investigations with the Law Offices of Amy Oppenheimer since 2014.
Sexual harassment has never been in the spotlight so much as it has over the last few months. One issue that has been under scrutiny is how institutions respond to harassment complaints. A place to turn when determining an appropriate institutional response are guidelines provided by enforcement agencies, such as the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). Many practitioners are unaware that DFEH recently published new guidelines that are of great assistance in determining an appropriate response to claims of discrimination and harassment (DFEH, Workplace Harassment Guide for California Employers (2017)). Other government guidelines to consider are the EEOC Enforcement Guidance on Vicarious Employer Liability for Harassment by Supervisors, which was published in 1999 in the wake of the Supreme Court decisions in the Ellerth and Faragher cases.1