Types of Workplace Harassment - Discriminatory Harassment

Types of Workplace Harassment

There are several types of workplace harassment – and they’re all very serious. Here’s what you need to know about the main types of workplace harassment and what you can do to stop them.

Types of Workplace Harassment

The main types of workplace harassment include:

  • Discriminatory harassment
  • Sexual harassment
  • Retaliation

There are many other forms of harassment, though, and many employers will take the time to address them if they occur. If you’ve notified your employer about harassment you or someone else is experiencing but your employer didn’t put a stop to it, call a Glendale workplace harassment lawyer to find out if you may have legal recourse.

What is Workplace Harassment?

Harassment that occurs in the workplace is a form of discrimination, and it violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as well as other federal and California state laws.

Not all harassment is against the law. However, it is against the law when:

  • The harassment is severe or pervasive enough that a reasonable person would feel like the workplace was hostile, abusive or intimidating.
  • The harassment results in a change of an employee’s status or salary (like a demotion or being fired).
  • You have to put up with the harassment in order to keep your job.

There are many types of workplace harassment, and the law prohibits certain behaviors. Check out the following sections to learn about each type.

Related: What is verbal harassment at work?

Discriminatory Harassment

When the harassment takes place because the victim is a member of a protected class, it’s considered discriminatory harassment.

Examples of Discriminatory Harassment

Discriminatory harassment in the workplace can take many forms, including:

  • Being left out of activities or meetings
  • Degrading comments
  • Expression of disgust
  • Intolerance of people’s differences
  • Intolerance toward religious traditions, holidays or customs
  • Pressures to change religion
  • Racial jokes
  • Racial slurs
  • Unfair criticism

If you’re experiencing any of these and you’ve reported it to your employer, either on your own or through another coworker, your boss or your company’s Human Resources department but the problem continues, you may need to talk to an attorney.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is against the law. It’s not only about someone “hitting on” another person, though. Sexual harassment can include:

  • Invading someone else’s personal space in a sexual way
  • Putting up sexual posters
  • Sexual comments
  • Sexual gestures
  • Sexual jokes
  • Sexual questions
  • Sexual touching
  • Sharing pornography

The two major types of sexual harassment that occur in the workplace are quid pro quo and hostile work environment sexual harassment.

Types of Workplace Harassment - Sexual HarassmentQuid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment

The Latin term quid pro quo means “this for that.” This type of harassment usually occurs between a supervisor and a subordinate, when the supervisor is in a position of power and can provide some type of reward or punishment.

In quid pro quo sexual harassment, the supervisor sexually harasses a subordinate and attaches conditions, like “If you go on a date with me, I won’t give you a bad performance review” or “You should kiss me – it could benefit your career.”

Related: Quid pro quo sexual harassment in the workplace

Hostile Work Environment Sexual Harassment

Hostile work environment sexual harassment is a type of harassment that makes it impossible to perform your job. The harassment has to involve unwelcome conduct that would offend a reasonable person, and it must be so pervasive or severe that it makes the workplace intimidating and uncomfortable.

Related: Hostile work environment sexual harassment in California

Intimidation and Physical Harassment

Harassment can be tied to intimidation – and things can even get physical. Some types of intimidation-related harassment involve:

  • Belittling or trivializing a worker’s issues
  • Challenging everything a worker says
  • Creating impossible-to-meet demands
  • Cyberbullying
  • Demeaning demands
  • Discrediting or spreading rumors about a worker
  • Intrusion into a worker’s personal life

Harassing conduct like this can also include ridicule and insults, physical assaults or threats of physical assaults, and offensive jokes, slurs and more.

Intimidation and physical harassment can occur toward any worker, and it can be tied to age, religion, race or any number of other things.


Types of Workplace Harassment - RetaliationRetaliation against an employee for reporting unlawful conduct is illegal – and sometimes people who were reported (or their friends or supporters) engage in campaigns of harassment against the person who reported it in the first place.

For example, if you file a complaint against your boss and your boss knows it was you, he or she might try to harass you – both for revenge and to “make an example” out of you so others won’t file further complaints… or so you won’t file further complaints.

Related: What is the Whistleblower Protection Act?

Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About the Types of Workplace Harassment?

If you’re being harassed at work and your employer has failed to address the issue, we may be able to help you. The type of harassment you’re experiencing doesn’t have to be listed here to be against the law.

Call us right away at 818-918-3876 to set up a free consultation with a Glendale and Los Angeles employment lawyer. We’ll answer your questions and develop a strategy that gets you the best possible outcome.


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