In today’s rapidly evolving professional landscape, workplace harassment has become an unfortunate reality for many individuals. The prevalence of such misconduct has sparked widespread concern, highlighting the need to address and combat this issue head-on. With the boundaries of acceptable behavior constantly shifting, it is crucial to understand what types of harassment are considered illegal within a workplace setting. This informative post delves into the various forms of workplace harassment under legal scrutiny. Additionally, we will discuss the role of a workplace harassment lawyer in providing support, guidance, and legal recourse for those affected by these distressing situations.

What Is Considered To Be Workplace Harassment?

Workplace harassment encompasses a range of behaviors that create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment for employees. It refers to any unwelcome verbal, nonverbal, physical, or visual conduct that targets an individual or a group based on protected characteristics, such as race, gender, religion, disability, age, or sexual orientation. This can include derogatory comments, offensive jokes, slurs, threats, bullying, sexual advances, unwanted touching, or displaying offensive material. It is important to note that workplace harassment is not limited to actions by supervisors or managers; it can also occur among coworkers or external parties connected to the workplace. Understanding what is considered workplace harassment is crucial in fostering a culture of respect and ensuring a safe and inclusive environment for all employees.

Types of Harassment that are Illegal in a Workplace

Sexual Harassment:

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a significant concern that undermines individuals’ well-being, dignity, and professional growth. It encompasses a wide range of unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal, nonverbal, physical, or visual conduct of a sexual nature. This includes inappropriate comments, sexual jokes, lewd gestures, unwanted touching, or the display of sexually explicit materials. Sexual harassment creates a hostile work environment and is strictly prohibited by law.

Sexual harassment can take two forms:

a) Quid Pro Quo: This occurs when employment decisions, such as promotions or job security, are conditioned upon the victim’s submission to unwelcome sexual advances or favors.

b) Hostile Work Environment: This type of sexual harassment creates an intimidating, offensive, or hostile environment through unwelcome conduct that is sexual. It may include offensive remarks, explicit conversations, sexual jokes, or inappropriate physical contact.

Employers have a legal obligation to prevent and address sexual harassment in the workplace by establishing policies, conducting awareness training, and promptly addressing complaints.

Racial Harassment:

Racial harassment refers to any conduct directed at an individual based on race or ethnicity, creating a hostile work environment. It involves actions or remarks that degrade, belittle, or discriminate against individuals because of their racial background. Examples of racial harassment include racial slurs, derogatory comments, offensive jokes, or discriminatory practices, such as unfair treatment, exclusion, or denial of opportunities based on race. Racial harassment violates anti-discrimination laws and can have severe emotional, psychological, and professional consequences for the victims.

To combat racial harassment, organizations and businesses should foster a culture of inclusion, respect, and diversity. Employers must enforce zero-tolerance policies against racial harassment, establish reporting mechanisms, and provide training to promote awareness and sensitivity.

Age Harassment

Age harassment occurs when an individual is subjected to mistreatment or hostility based on age, creating a hostile work environment. This harassment can be directed toward younger and older individuals in various ways. Age-related comments, age-based stereotypes, exclusionary practices, or denying professional opportunities based on age are all examples of age harassment. Such behavior undermines the value of experience and diversity within the workplace, negatively impacting individuals and the organization.

Disability Harassment

Disability harassment refers to any conduct directed at an individual based on their disability, creating a hostile work environment. Individuals with disabilities may face derogatory comments, mocking, exclusionary behavior, or the denial of reasonable accommodations necessary to perform their job effectively. Employers are legally obligated to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, such as wheelchair accessibility, modified work schedules, or assistive technologies. They must also take proactive measures to prevent disability harassment, including educating employees on disability awareness, fostering an inclusive culture, and promptly addressing reported incidents.

Religious Harassment

Religious harassment occurs when an individual is subjected to mistreatment or hostility based on their religious beliefs, creating a hostile work environment. This form of harassment may involve derogatory remarks, mocking, exclusionary practices, or actions undermining an individual’s ability to practice their religion freely. Employers must respect and accommodate employees’ religious beliefs, practices, and observances unless doing so would cause undue hardship on the business.

How Can Workplace Harassment Lawyers Help?

Navigating the complexities of workplace harassment and seeking legal recourse can be challenging for individuals facing such distressing situations. At Swartz & Swartz, we have a team of workplace harassment lawyers who specialize in this area of law and play a crucial role in assisting victims. These legal professionals will provide support, guidance, and advocacy throughout the process.

Check out our website to learn more about our services and how our lawyers can be an asset for you in such situations!


Workplace harassment in its various forms poses a significant threat to the well-being, dignity, and professional development of individuals in the workplace. Understanding what types of harassment are considered illegal is pivotal in recognizing, addressing, and preventing such behavior. Sexual harassment, racial harassment, age harassment, disability harassment, and religious harassment all violate the rights of individuals and create hostile work environments.


What types of behaviors can be considered workplace harassment?
Behaviors such as unwelcome sexual advances, derogatory comments based on race, age, or disability, and religious discrimination can be considered workplace harassment.

What legal protections are in place to prevent workplace harassment?
Legal protections include anti-discrimination laws, such as Title VII in the US, which prohibit harassment based on protected characteristics like race, gender, religion, age, and disability.

How should employees report incidents of workplace harassment?
Employees should follow their company’s reporting procedures, which typically involve reporting incidents to a supervisor, human resources department, or designated authority within the organization.

What actions can employers take to create a harassment-free work environment?
Employers can establish clear anti-harassment policies, provide training on harassment prevention, foster a culture of respect, and promptly address reported incidents of harassment.

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About the Author: James Swartz
Mr. Swartz, our Managing and Principal Attorney at Swartz & Swartz P.C., is a nationally recognized and respected trial attorney as well as consumer advocate. His practice focuses on cases involving negligence, torts, products liability, medical malpractice, wrongful death, and other claims involving catastrophic injuries.

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