Everybody in the United States, regardless of their characteristics, deserves a safe place to work. Unfortunately, the reality of many workplaces do not match up to this ideal.

This is why it is so important to understand what constitutes harassment under the law in the United States. According to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, legal harassment in the workplace involves violating multiple acts, including title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

What is the specific definition?

Harassment encompasses a variety of poor conduct. For instance, it is possible to experience harassment due to your sex, national origin, color, race, religion, age, genetic information, or disability status. Harassment is specifically unlawful when the employee must endure this poor conduct as a requirement to continue employment, or if the poor conduct is bad enough that any reasonable person would find it hostile, abusive, or intimidating.

There is a difference between harassment and general annoyance. It is likely that in every workplace there are one or two people that you will not get along with, and this on its own is not harassment.

What can I do if I experience harassment at my workplace?

The first step is to try and resolve the situation internally. You must make it known to your supervisors or HR department that somebody at your workplace is engaging in harassing behavior. It is the employer’s job to put a stop to it. If the employer does not take sufficient action to stop the harassment, filing a claim with the EEOC is the next step.