Workplace discrimination vs. harassment: What’s the difference?

On Behalf of | Feb 5, 2024 | Workplace Discrimination

When building a career, the possibilities are endless. Unfortunately, so are the potential roadblocks. Two employment issues that can hinder your professional journey are workplace discrimination and harassment.

While they may sound similar, understanding their different nuances is crucial for protecting your rights and ensuring a fair and respectful work environment.

What is discrimination?

Think of it as having to suffer an unfair disadvantage based on a protected characteristic, like gender, religion, age, or disability, skin color or other protected status. This can include unfair treatment in job opportunities, pay, promotions, training or other work-related decisions.

Being passed over for a promotion in favor of a younger candidate can be an example of age discrimination. Receiving lower pay than male colleagues for the same work can be an example of gender discrimination.

What is harassment?

Workplace harassment is a form of discrimination that centers on unwelcome conduct that creates a hostile, intimidating or offensive work environment. It can feel like someone is constantly chipping away at your job, making it difficult to build a secure and fulfilling career.

An example of unlawful occupational harassment is people making offensive jokes or slurs based on an employee’s race or ethnicity. It can also involve unwanted physical contact and threats or intimidation.

No one should have to face discrimination or harassment in the workplace. If you encounter either in your job and you’re not able to resolve the issue through the human resources department or management, it can be helpful to seek legal guidance. Federal and New York anti-discrimination laws can point to a solution.

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