SU professor named to EEOC task force on workplace harassment

Shippensburg University management professor Jerry Carbo, who has researched workplace harassment and bullying for the past 20 years, recently received unexpected but welcome recognition for his work—appointment to a new federal task force on the issue.

Carbo is one of 16 people named by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to its Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace. The group includes academics, plaintiffs’ and defense attorneys, employers and representatives of employee advocacy groups and organized labor.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment.

“This is an exciting opportunity. I am extremely honored to have been chosen,” said Carbo, an associate professor in the Department of Management and Marketing and an attorney. “It is an incredible group of people I’ll be working with.”

EEOC Chair Jenny Yang created the task force “to examine…workplace harassment in all its forms and look for ways by which it might be prevented and addressed,” adding that it “remains a persistent problem” in the United States. Carbo agrees with that assessment.

“I’ve worked for 20 years in trying to eliminate harassment in the workplace. In that time, the problem hasn’t gotten better; if anything, it’s gotten worse,” he said.

Workplace bullying is a billion-dollar issue for American organizations, Carbo said, with problems ranging from loss of productivity and health issues to workplace violence. “The effects are devastating. When left unchecked, the end result often is a true disaster for the target—either leaving their job or suffering emotionally, psychologically or physically.”

Carbo expects the task force to meet several times over the next year, including some public meetings. “We have a broad mission, and will be looking at any number of ways to address the problem,” he said. “It could be incentives for employers to focus more on the issue and advice on how they can do that. We may need to look at whether enforcement needs to be tightened or whether penalties need to be expanded. There’s no one answer to this.

“My great hope is that this will at least be the first step in really addressing the problem of harassment in the workplace—not what to do when it happens, but to keep it from happening in the first place.”

4.8.15

Read the article in the Central Penn Business Journal