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  • Corey Hall

What's the difference between Harassment and Discrimination?

When an individual in the workplace mistreats another person based on their gender, race, national origin, sexual orientation, or other prohibited category in a manner that falls outside the perpetrator's job description, it can be considered workplace harassment.

On the other hand, employment discrimination happens when a person differentiates treatment between employees on the basis of prohibited categories while engaging in acts that are part of the perpetrator's job description. It is important to recognize and address both workplace harassment and employment discrimination, as they can create a hostile and unfair work environment.

How is Harassment different from Discrimination?

In the context of the FEHA, discrimination and harassment are distinct concepts. Harassment typically involves biased behavior towards an individual in the workplace based on personal characteristics such as sex, race, religion, etc., and is often expressed through interpersonal interactions. Discrimination, on the other hand, involves biased behavior expressed through official employment actions, and is usually committed by an employer or supervisor while performing their job duties.

In other words, while harassment involves behavior that is external to the harasser's job responsibilities, discrimination is always a part of the performance of the job. It is important to understand and differentiate between these two concepts in order to properly address any issues of bias or unfair treatment in the workplace.

What are my rights and protections against Harassment and Discrimination?

Under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), employees in California are granted a variety of rights to protect them from harassment and discrimination. These rights include the right to work in an environment free from discrimination or harassment based on characteristics such as age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, and disability.

Employees also have the right to report instances of harassment or discrimination to their employer, without fear of retaliation. Employers are required to take appropriate action to prevent the recurrence of harassment or discrimination, and to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities or religious beliefs, unless it would cause undue hardship to the employer.

If an employee believes they have experienced harassment or discrimination in the workplace, they have the right to file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). These rights are in place to ensure that employees are protected from discriminatory or harassing behavior and that a fair and inclusive work environment is maintained.

Get Legal Help Now

If you have questions about the difference between workplace harassment and employment discrimination under California's Fair Employment and Housing Act, or if you would like to confidentially discuss your case with one of our knowledgeable California labor and employment lawyers, please feel free to get in touch with us.

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