Harassment can take many forms, from derogatory jokes based on ethnicity or age to name-calling and slurs to threats and outright physical violence. For example, in a sexual harassment case, a supervisor might insist that the victim go on a date or otherwise accept his/her sexual advances or miss out on work opportunities.
Employee Hostile Work Environment
The other type of harassment is called "hostile work environment" harassment. In these cases, the harassment doesn't directly result in discipline or lost opportunities, but makes it difficult for the employee to work because of constant ridicule, belittling comments, teasing, sexual come-ons, and others. This type of harassment may take the form of comments about an employee's protected characteristic or it may be more subtle. For example, a supervisor may treat a subordinate of a certain ethnicity better than other workers.
Basis for Harassment and Hostile Work Environment
Employees commonly use the term "harassment" when they feel like they are treated unfairly or unduly harshly at their work. However, legally speaking, harassment is a type of discrimination. For an employee to bring an action for harassment or hostile work environment, the harassing or hostil actions must be based on discrimination. To learn more about employee discrimination, click HERE for more information.