Harassment is a form of employment discrimination that violates several Federal laws. Depending on your employment situation, you are protected from harassment based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age (40 or older), disability, genetic information, status as a protected veteran, or protected activity (such as filing a discrimination complaint or participating in a discrimination investigation or lawsuit).

Your employer is automatically liable for harassment by your supervisor that results in a negative employment action, such as firing you, failing to promote or hire you, or loss of wages.

You have the right to file a complaint or a Charge of Discrimination, participate in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit, or oppose harassment or discrimination without being retaliated against by your employer.

What this means for you

Petty slights, annoyances, and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious) will not rise to the level of illegality. To be unlawful, the conduct must create a work environment that would be intimidating, hostile, or offensive to reasonable people.

Offensive conduct may include, but is not limited to, offensive jokes, slurs, epithets or name calling, physical assaults or threats, intimidation, ridicule or mockery, insults or put-downs, offensive objects or pictures, and interference with work performance. Harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including:

  • the harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, an agent of the employer, a coworker, or a non-employee
  • the victim does not have to be the person harassed, but can be anyone affected by the offensive conduct
  • unlawful harassment may occur without economic injury to, or discharge of, the victim

Sexual harassment, including unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature, is unlawful. In addition, offensive remarks about a person’s sex may be illegal sex-based harassment. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by repeatedly making offensive comments about women in general.

Questions? We’re here to help.

We are committed to helping you understand your rights as a worker. Many questions about your rights may be answered by using the following elaws (Employment Laws Assistance for Workers and Small Businesses) Advisors:

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) work together to coordinate investigations of complaints.

For additional assistance, please contact:

Learn about filing a complaint

We’ll help you decide what to do next and determine whether filing a complaint is the best course of action. You must file a complaint within a certain timeframe to take further legal action, so it is best to begin the process early.

Please note that it is illegal for your employer to fire, demote, harass, or otherwise retaliate against you for reporting an issue to the OFCCP or EEOC.

File with OFCCP File with EEOC