Defining the Different Types of Workplace Harassment

Harassment Definitions

Even if you never file a claim with the EEOC, these definitions can help you navigate and negotiate your own resolution or escalation. 

What Constitutes Harassment?

The EEOC defines harassment as “unwelcome conduct based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40+), disability or genetic information.”

Harassment becomes UNLAWFUL where:

  1. Enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment
  2. The conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.
  3. Harassment is in retaliation for filing a charge, testifying or participating in an investigation.

That covers a wide range of abuses.  Your company is responsible for providing a safe work environment.  And harassment at work doesn’t just affect the person being targeted. Anyone can be affected by offensive conduct, and can report it. 

Below are the definitions of the different types of discrimination and  harassment that are protected by federal law.

Harassment is the unwelcome conduct based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40+), disability or genetic information.

Types of Harassment and Discrimination

Race / Color Discrimination
  • # of Employees: 15+
  • # of days to file: 180 days
  • Laws governing protection: Title VII
  • Treating a person (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of their race
  • Treating someone unfavorably because of personal characteristics, associated with race
  • This can include, but is not limited to skin color, hair texture, facial features
  • Color discrimination includes treating someone unfavorably because of their skin color
  • Offensive or derogatory remarks about a person’s race or color
  • Treating someone unfavorably because the person is associated (married / involved with) a person of a certain race or color.
  • Both parties, the person discriminating and the person who is a victim of that discrimination can be the same race or color.
Religious Discrimination
  • # of Employees: 15+
  • # of days to file: 180 days
  • Laws governing protection: Title VII
  • Treating a person (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of their religious beliefs
  • Religious beliefs include protection of people with traditional religious views
  • Religious beliefs include protection of people who have strongly held ethical and moral beliefs
  • Offensive or derogatory remarks about a person’s religion
  • Treating someone unfavorably because the person is associated (married / involved with) a person with a particular religion
  • Segregation based on religion, including religious clothing or grooming practices is prohibited
  • Both parties, the person discriminating and the person who is a victim of that discrimination can be of the same religion
National Orgin Discrimination
  • # of Employees: 15+
  • # of days to file: 180 days
  • Laws governing protection: Title VII
  • Treating a person (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of where they are from, including their national or regional origin, their ethnicity, their accent.
  • National origin can include harassment based on a person’s perceived background, even if they are not
  • Offensive or derogatory remarks about a person’s national origin
  • Treating someone unfavorably because the person is associated (married / involved with) a person of a certain nation origin
  • Segregation based on religion, including religious clothing or grooming practices is prohibited
  • Both parties, the person discriminating and the person who is a victim of that discrimination can be of the same national origin
  • English fluency:  if fluency in English is required to perform the job effectively
  • English only rule: allowed if needed for “safe / efficient operation of the employer’s business, put in place for a nondiscriminatory reason”
  • Accents: if an accent “seriously interferes” with job performance
Gender / Sex Discrimination
  • # of Employees: 15+
  • # of days to file: 180 days
  • Laws governing protection: Title VII
  • Treating a person (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of their sex / gender
  • Includes verbal and physical harassment based on sex
  • Includes offensive or derogatory remarks about a person’s sex or statements about an entire gender
  • Includes sexual harassment (see below for more info)
  • Includes pregnancy harassment (see below for more info)
  • Includes pay discrimination (see below for more info)
  • Both parties, the person discriminating and the person who is a victim of that discrimination can be of the same sex
LGBQT+ Discrimination
  • # of Employees: 15+
  • # of days to file: 180 days
  • Laws governing protection: Title VII, EEOC Courts
  • LGBTQ+ is covered under SEX discrimination laws – see above.  
Sexual Harassment
  • # of Employees: 15+
  • # of days to file: 180 days
  • Laws Governing Protection: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • Includes unwelcome sexual advances 
  • Includes requests for sexual favors
  • Includes verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature
  • Includes offensive remarks about a person’s gender or a gender in general
  • harassment of a person (an applicant or employee) because of their sex. 
  • Loss of income, injury, or job is not necessary for sexual harassment to occur
  • The harasser’s conduct must be unwelcome
Pregnancy Discrimination
  • Treating a pregnant person (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of pregnancy and medical conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth 
  • Temporarily unable to perform job: if related to pregnancy or medical condition, the employer must treat same as temporarily disabled employee is treated
  • Some medical conditions from pregnancy may fall under The Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Employers may have to provide “reasonable accommodation” for a pregnancy related disability 
  • The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is administrated by the Department of Labor, includes additional rights of pregnant employees, new parents and nursing mothers. (See The Department of Labor for more info).
Equal Pay Discrimination
  • # of Employees: 15+
  • Can go directly to court without filing an EEOC charge.
  • Go to court within 2 years 
  • May file an EEOC charge for gender discrimination. 180 days.
  • Laws governing protection: Title VII, ADA, ADEA, The Equal Pay Act
  • Requires men and women in the same workplace be given equal pay for equal work
  • “Job does not need to be identical, they can be substantially equal”
  • Work content standard (not titles) is used to determine if jobs are “substantially equal”
  • Covers all forms of pay, including salary, overtime, bonuses, stock options, profit sharing, benefits, holidays and vacations, work expenses and reimbursement, etc.
  • Employer can reduce the wage to equalize pay
Disability Discrimination
  • # of Employees: 15+
  • # of days to file: 180 days
  • Laws governing protection: Title VII, The Americans with Disabilities Act, The Rehabilitation Act.
  • Treating a “qualified” person (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because they have a disability 
  • Treating a person unfavorably because they have a history of disability
  • Offensive or derogatory remarks about a person’s disability
  • Treating someone unfavorably because the person is associated (married / involved with) a person with a disability
  • Employers may be required to provide reasonable accommodation 
Genetic Information Discrimination
  • # of Employees: 15+
  • # of days to file: 180 days
  • Laws governing protection: Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA)
  • Genetic Information includes an person’s, or person’s family member’s genetic test
  • Genetic information includes a disease or disorder manifested in a person or their family member, including family medical history
  • Treating a person (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of their genetic information / family history
  • Includes Offensive or derogatory remarks about a person’s genetic information
  • Treating someone unfavorably because of the genetic information of a person the employee is associated 
  • An employer may not collect or share genetic information except under very specific circumstances
Third Party Harassment
  • # of Employees: 15+
  • # of days to file: 180 days
  • Laws Governing Protection: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • Refers to the person/s harassing
  • Includes coworkers, indirect supervisors, contractors, clients, vendors, any party working with your company
Retaliation
  • Refers to the punishment of a person (applicant or employee) for asserting their rights to be free from harassment and discrimination
  • Includes punishing a person for reporting discrimination or harassment
  • Includes punishing a person for filing a complaint with the EEOC
  • Includes punishing a person for being a witness to an investigation of harassment
  • Includes punishing a person or refusing to follow orders that would results in discrimination
  • Includes punishing a person for resisting sexual harassment, or intervening on behalf of a person being sexually harassed
  • Includes punishing a person for requesting accommodation for religious practice or disability
  • Includes punishing a person for requesting salary information to uncover protentional wage discrimination

Examples of Harassment

Verbal Harassment: 

  • Offensive jokes
  • Slurs
  • Epithets
  • Name calling
  • Asking inappropriate questions
  • Mockery, ridicule, putdowns, insults
  • Verbal threats and intimidation

Visual Harassment:

  • Offensive objects, pictures, shared or on display
  • Indecent exposure

Physical Harassment:

  • Physical threats
  • Physical assault
  • Physical intimidation

Psychological Harassment: 

  • Implied threats
  • Gaslighting
  • Power enforcement
  • Threats
  • Left out of meetings
  • Withholding information
  • Setups

The Latest News

The Latest Blog

Posted

in

,

<<< Click to see more