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How Harassment and Discrimination Differ on the Job

California companies may try to bring the issues of discrimination and harassment to the forefront by educating their employees. With more people reporting claims against fellow workers, clients and managers, making sure everyone understands the policies and procedures in place is critical in preventing further issues and bringing incidents to light.

We at Hennig Ruiz & Singh aim to help further that education by giving you some more clarification on two terms that some mix-up. Harassment and discrimination are two things that the government has made illegal in the workplace. The key to stopping these unsavory practices may start with knowing their differences.

Discrimination is the umbrella

The larger issue, according to the EEOC, is discrimination. It defines this practice as unfair treatment by a company or those within it due to a person’s age, race, gender, religion, genetics or physical abilities. Discrimination in the workplace usually involves bias regarding promotions or special privileges. Pay and management opportunities are the most common areas of employment, where people feel the most discriminated.

Harassment is a subset of discrimination 

A subset of discrimination is harassment. It involves improper conduct towards others based on the same categories of discrimination. Comments and behavior cross a line when the person enduring it indicates it is not welcome or wanted. The harassment becomes illegal when:

  • The behavior is hostile and creates a toxic and unpleasant work environment
  • The words or actions are threatening, intimidating or abusive
  • The target of the behavior feels he or she must deal with it or lose the position

Once the employee reports the inappropriate behavior to a supervisor, the company must take action to end the discriminatory or harassing behavior or risk a lawsuit.

Need more information on unfair employment practices? Visit our website for more insight into this and other unfair labor practices.

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