The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission published “Promising Practices for Preventing Harassment in the Construction Industry” last week, highlighting recommendations industry leaders can follow to combat harassment in the industry.

The document outlines key practices to prevent and address harassment in the construction industry, including committed leadership, accountability, comprehensive policies, accessible complaint procedures, and tailored training.

In a June 18 news release, the EEOC described the roundtable discussion hosted by the White House and led by the agency’s Vice Chair, Jocelyn Samuels, which included other federal agency leaders, employers, trade unions, and others.

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 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 supports the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan 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 the importance of committed leadership in solving workplace harassment. One promising practice for project owners, including local and state governments, is to require plans to address harassment in contract bids.

Another example of a promising practice is for general contractors to provide an anonymous hotline to receive complaints from all onsite workers, in addition to confirming that every subcontractor has implemented its own complaint channel.

It also discusses risk factors in the industry that increase the likelihood of harassment, such as primarily male workforces, workplaces where there is pressure to conform to traditional stereotypes, and decentralized workplaces. 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,” she added.

The promising practices document follows a 2023 report issued by 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 the next steps, identified a number of barriers that lead to the underrepresentation of women, people of color, and other groups in the construction industry.

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