As legally defined, harassment is the very act which leads to a hostile workplace environment. So this act can be as minor as name-calling and put an employee on an embarrassing situation; or it can be as grave as racial discrimination; indifference towards a person’s religion; and discrimination against sexual orientation. There are many aspects of workplace harassment laws which are meant to protect employees from would-be predators.
Sometimes, the laws can embrace much more complicated matters such as deciding on a person’s potential employment through previous psychiatric treatments; having a criminal record; or even dishonorable discharge from military service.
Discriminatory speech, according to the law, does not only focus on threats or obscenity but it can also constitute fighting words; feminism; or plain profanity. Even snide remarks on one employee’s political preference could already be considered as a violation of the workplace harassment laws. These laws are all-encompassing that workers are guaranteed of a better workplace where bosses do not rule like tyrants.
If you delve deeper into the meaning of laws on workplace harassment, you would notice that even seemingly acceptable acts such as broadcasting Catholic forms of prayer over the company’s sound system can be grounds for harassment. This is actually a form of religious discrimination as there could be other employees who do not share the same religion as the rest of the workers.
The line between bullying and acceptable workplace behavior can be so thin at times that it is up to the employees to keenly observe if they are already being subjected even to the simplest form of harassment. One other tangible example is the use of “Men Working” signage at construction sites.
This very area could be the workplace of a lady engineer and posting such signs could already mean sexual discrimination. Another seemingly simple act is the display of an American flag at workstations. There could be workers that come from different nations so this is already an act against the discrimination law.
Workplace harassment laws are being implemented to protect, not only the majority, but even the minority who are, oftentimes, ignored. These laws serve as deterrents to future commissions of discriminatory acts and this is a good thing since the past decades have shown an increasing trend in workplace abuse.