Understanding Different Types of Harassment

By Daisy Rogozinsky
/
January 15, 2023

Harassment in the workplace is not only devastating to victims; it is also illegal. In this article, we explore the different types of harassment a person might experience in the workplace.

What Is Harassment?

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), harassment is “unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including sexual orientation, gender identity, or pregnancy), national origin, older age (beginning at age 40), disability, or genetic information (including family medical history).”

By the EEOC’s definition, harassment becomes unlawful when it meets any of the following conditions:

  • Enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment
  • The conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive
  • The harassment is in retaliation for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or lawsuit under these laws

To that end, actions that may be considered harassment include:

  • Offensive jokes
  • Slurs
  • Name-calling
  • Threats or intimidation
  • Physical assault
  • Ridicule or mockery
  • Insults
  • Offensive objects or pictures
  • Interference with work performance

Harassment can occur whether the victim is a supervisor, a co-worker, a non-employee, or an agent of the employer. The victim can be anybody affected by the offensive conduct, even if it is not the person directly harassed. And harassment can be considered unlawful even if it does not economically injure the victim. 

Types of Harassment 

All of the below are examples of different types of harassment in some or all states.

Race, Religion, Sex, and National Origin

One of the most important civil rights laws in American history, ​​Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits harassment on the basis of race, religion, sex, and national origin.

Age

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) makes it illegal to discriminate against somebody based on their age. This protects older employees from discriminatory practices in hiring, firing, and promotion.

Veteran Status

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act (USERA) makes it illegal to discriminate against an individual on the basis of their past, current, or future military service or obligations. 

Disability

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits qualifying employers with 25 or more employees from discriminating against individuals with disabilities. 

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identification

In 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States decided in the case Bostock v. Clayton County that the prohibition against sex discrimination in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 includes employment discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status.

Criminal History

According to the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals based on their criminal history. Since 2021, federal agencies and contractors may not inquire into an applicant’s criminal history until after a conditional offer has been made. Additionally, many states have laws prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of arrest or conviction records.

Citizenship Status

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) prohibits employers from discriminating against a person on the basis of citizenship status. New York and Illinois also have state statutes prohibiting the same.

Smoking Status

Twenty-nine states and Washington, D.C. have laws protecting smokers from discrimination, including refusing to hire smokers. These include:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • District of Columbia
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Hairstyle

California’s 2019 Crown Act made it illegal to discriminate against employees based on hairstyle. Since then, 15 other states have enacted similar laws including:

  1. Colorado
  2. Connecticut
  3. Delaware
  4. Louisiana
  5. Maine
  6. Maryland
  7. Massachusetts
  8. Nebraska
  9. Nevada
  10. New Jersey
  11. New Mexico
  12. New York
  13. Oregon
  14. Tennessee
  15. Virginia
  16. Washington

Marital Status

Nineteen states ban discrimination on the basis of marital status, including:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota 
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York 
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

Gender Identity

Many states and cities have laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity. For detailed information about which states have which laws, view this State-by-State Guide to Laws That Prohibit Discrimination Against Transgender People.

Appalachian Heritage

In Cincinnati, Ohio, it is illegal to discriminate against people of Appalachian regional origin with respect to terms or conditions of employment.

Political Beliefs

In California and Seattle, Washington, it is illegal to discriminate against somebody on the basis of political ideology. 

Sources of Income

New York and Philadelphia have laws prohibiting discrimination and harassment on the basis of “sources of income.” 

Taking Action Against Harassment

If you have been the victim of illegal harassment in the workplace, you have the option of taking legal action against your employer. After filing a charge to the EEOC, you can legally sue your employer for damages. To receive a free case review and learn more about how to proceed, speak to a harassment attorney.

Featured Sexual Assault Lawyers

Boeheim Freeman, PLLP

Google rating
4.6
8 years in practice
Child Custody, Child Support, Criminal Defense, Divorce & Family Law, DUI Law
View Profile

Marble Law PC

3 years in practice
Alimony, Child Custody, Criminal Defense, Divorce & Family Law, Divorce Law
View Profile

Law Practice, Ltd

Google rating
4.4
35 years in practice
Child Custody, Child Support, Divorce & Family Law, Prenups & Marital Agreement
View Profile

Leavitt Law Firm

Google rating
4.8
33 years in practice
Divorce & Family Law, Divorce Law, Prenups & Marital Agreement
View Profile

Mills & Anderson Law Group

Google rating
4.6
16 years in practice
Divorce & Family Law, Divorce Law, Prenups & Marital Agreement
View Profile

Related Posts

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Daisy RogozinskyJanuary 16, 2023
What Is Quid Pro Quo Harassment?
Daisy RogozinskyJanuary 18, 2023
Attorney At Law is changing how clients connect with lawyers. By providing an innovative platform to lawyers who want to expand their practice’s reach, AAL is bringing law practices into the future.
6142 Innovation Way
Carlsbad, California 92009
© 2022 Attorney at Law | All rights reserved
Some of the content of this website may be considered attorney advertising under the rules of certain jurisdictions. The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship.
crossmenuchevron-upchevron-down linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram