The Kansas Human Rights Commission (“KHRC”) has released statistics regarding employment complaints filed with the agency in the 2015 fiscal year. There were 729 total complaints filed. Of these, 252, or about 35%, alleged harassment. Not surprisingly, sex-based harassment complaints top the chart of all harassment charges. But disability and race-based harassment charges are not far behind. The KHRC also received complaints of harassment based on age, national origin/ancestry, and religion.
Over three-fourths of the sex-based harassment charges (77.5%) alleged harassment against females. Of the race-based harassment charges, 82% alleged harassment against black employees, 15% alleged harassment against white employees, and the rest involved other races or multi-racial employees.
Similarly, complaints filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) continue to include a high percentage of harassment complaints. The EEOC has created a task force to study and address harassment in the workplace.
Employers have a duty to take steps to provide employees with a working environment free from unlawful harassment—which includes not only harassment by supervisors and co-workers, but also harassment by customers, vendors, and other individuals employees may come into contact with as a result of their employment. Vigilant employers should have strong anti-harassment policies with reporting and investigation procedures. Employers should also provide harassment training and must be ready to swiftly address harassment complaints. As the number of claims continues to rise, and the EEOC ramps up the attention paid to harassment, now is a good time to re-train your supervisors and re-examine the adequacy of your anti-harassment policy and processes.