Understanding Workplace Harassment Law

Simply claiming harassment does not necessarily constitute violating our workplace harassment law. The fact is that unless the employee being harassed falls within one of the protected classes it is virtually impossible for that employee to claim harassment. However, don’t think you are off the hook yet until you fully understand what those protected classes are.

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 the protected classes are:




National Origin


The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 protects employees forty years old and older in the workplace. Believe it or not many organizations believe that someone older will not only be less productive but will not be around long term. On the other hand an employer begins to harass an older employee by pushing them harder to do more. Some simple but seemingly innocent statements like a birthday cake that has writing on it about being over the hill. It’s all a joke until you have to discipline the employee for not performing.

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 protects both men and women who perform jobs that are substantially equal in the same establishment from discrimination in the form of different wages. In other words you can’t pay someone less for just being a woman or just being a man. Although it’s hard to believe there are some ridiculous employers that believe a man needs more money to take care of their families. Well here’s a wakeup call to those employers, you will be in deep smelly stuff if you don’t treat everyone the same that performs the same. This is just one more way to violate our workplace harassment law.

Another possible trouble spot is for those employers that treat someone with a disability differently. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended protects individuals with disabilities. This is especially difficult since the law is not very descriptive in what a disability is. It simply states that a disability is something that significantly affects a major life activity. The only disability excluded is a person wearing glasses. If someone claims they are being harassed because of a disability be very careful and make sure you look closely at what they are claiming.

So now let’s talk about how you can violate our workplace harassment law.

Harassment can be something as simple as telling inappropriate jokes about someone’s age which could fall into the category of age discrimination, to having a sexually explicit calendar in a public area which will most likely fall into sexual harassment. In either case these acts can be classified as harassment.

When it comes to sexual harassment there are a wide variety of things an employer can do or even close their eyes to that will cause them problems. If employee knows or should know that something harassing is taking place they will be held accountable. And since the employer is the one everyone believes has deep pockets the employer is the one that will be sued.

Thank you and May God bless you!

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