What Is Harassment? (And What Isn’t?)


When you hear the word “harassment,” high profile sexual harassment stories are probably the first ones you think of. While these harassment examples tend to get the most attention, they are far from the only types of harassment in the workplace. By law, harassment is unwelcome behavior based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age, disability, or genetic information. An action doesn’t have to be illegal in order for it to be harassment. Harassment is any behavior that creates a hostile work environment.

Harassment Examples

The high-profile stories that make the news are obvious harassment examples that are clearly not okay. But is all harassment in the workplace that easy to identify? Awareness through training can help you and your staff recognize harassing behaviors. Take a look at the following harassment examples. Could any of these happen at your restaurant?

  • Making jokes, slurs, gestures, or stereotypical statements related to race, disability, gender, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
  • Distributing or displaying offensive material to other employees in print or digitally.
  • Tampering with accommodations given to an employee with a disability.
  • Wearing offensive clothing.
  • Pushing religion on other employees who have expressed disinterest.
  • Assignment of unfavorable tasks based on an employee’s race or gender.
  • A customer requesting a different employee to serve them based on their religion, race, or appearance.
  • Imitating a person’s accent or disability.
  • Changing an employee’s schedule or job duties because of refusal to date a supervisor.

Usually, decency, integrity, and common sense will tell you if a behavior is inappropriate. If you witness or are the target of behavior that makes you feel uncomfortable, chances are good it’s making others feel uncomfortable, too, and that makes it harassment. Remember, harassment can occur with customers, vendors, and other members of upper level management. Restaurant managers cannot watch every interaction that goes on. That’s why training on harassment in the workplace must include an explanation of harassment laws, real-world harassment examples, and clear instructions on how to report harassment.

Harassment in the Workplace Online Training

All employees are entitled to a comfortable and hostile-free work environment. All employers must provide a workplace that is free from harassment and discrimination. Online harassment training provides the baseline of knowledge managers and employees need to handle harassment in the workplace. Click here for more information.

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