Workplace Discrimination Vs. Workplace Harassment — Which Do You Face?

15 May 2023
 Categories: , Blog


Unfair employment practices harm your career, your mental health, and even your physical well-being. To properly defend your rights and put a stop to it, though, you first need to understand which kind of unfair and unlawful practices you face. To help you learn the best approach in your particular situation, here's what every employee needs to know about workplace discrimination versus harassment.

What Is Workplace Discrimination?

Discrimination is essentially an adverse employment action based on a person being in a protected class. In current U.S. law, these classes include a person's gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, age, disability, ethnicity, and pregnancy status.

Discrimination is generally the denial of some employment-related opportunity — such as a job, promotion, raise, project, or other advancements — not due to personal issues but due to this characteristic as a whole. 

What Is Workplace Harassment?

Harassment is also based on the same group of protected classes, but it's more personal. It is targeted, unwelcome conduct based on a person being part of a protected class. Harassment can take the form of a 'quid pro quo' proposition, which is direct and obvious. Or it may take a subtle approach by creating a hostile work environment that may even lead to the harassed employee quitting. 

Can You Face Both?

As with any illegal employment practice, both discrimination and harassment can overlap. Companies that allow a culture of discrimination often also hide a culture of harassment. For instance, a woman may be kept out of the running for a promotion due to her gender by a supervisor who enjoys making sexual remarks to her or making unwanted advances. Both are based on being part of a protected class, but they manifest in different ways. 

It's important to identify the ways that both discrimination and harassment show up, as there are sometimes different criteria for proving them in court. Often, for instance, a harassment case may need to document the resulting hostile work environment. However, this isn't often part of a discrimination case, nor is it necessary. However, denial of employment opportunities is a key point in the latter. 

Where Can You Get Help?

Do you face discrimination, harassment, or both in your workplace? Learn more about how to identify illegal behavior by your employer and how to prove it. Meet with a discrimination lawyer in your state to get help from a skilled and trained professional. Call today to make an appointment. 

Reach out to a discrimination lawyer to learn more.