It is important for workers and their families to be aware that they are protected from unlawful discrimination in the workplace and are also protected from unlawful harassment, such as sexual harassment, in the workplace. In addition, if employees face a demotion, or wrongful termination in retaliation by an employer for reporting workplace discrimination and harassment, they are also protected.
Sexual harassment that is prohibited in the workplace can fall into two categories including quid pro quo sexual harassment and hostile environment sexual harassment. In the case of the latter, if the harassment is persistent and pervasive it may constitute the creation of a hostile work environment which is prohibited under the law. Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when a supervisor in a position of authority requires sexual favors in return for taking a favorable action towards the employee, such as a pay raise, or refrains from taking a negative action towards the employee such as limiting their hours or firing them.
Unlawful discrimination in the workplace can impact how an employer treats the employee and may impact promotion opportunities, pay raises, work hours or benefits, among other considerations it may also impact. Discrimination in the workplace based on race or ethnicity; national origin; gender; pregnancy; sexual orientation; age; religion, disability; or military service or veteran status is prohibited and does not have to be tolerated by workers in the workplace.
Workers who have suffered workplace discrimination based on a protected designation, or have suffered sexual harassment in the workplace, may be able to bring a claim for damages and should be familiar with their legal options and the legal protections available to them. Workers have a reasonable expectation of safety in their workplace and that they will not be discriminated against or harassed and have legal remedies available to them if they are subjected to an unsafe, hostile or otherwise prohibited workplace environment.