Definitions

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Discrimination

Discrimination in the workplace occurs anytime your employer treats you differently than the other employees because of some "protected characteristic."  These characteristics include your race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation, care-giving status, marital status, gender, age, and/or disability or perceived disability.  If you are fired, disciplined, or otherwise treated differently by your employer because of these characteristics, you may have a discrimination claim.

Harassment

Harassment in the workplace occurs when your employer severely mistreats or wrongs you while you are doing your job.  The types of conduct recognized as harassment under the law are fairly broad and can include the following: yelling, screaming, using profanity, using racial epithets or slurs, staring, leering, sexual gestures, sexual innuendos, exceedingly difficult work assignments, unwanted touching, threats, offensive drawing or cartoons, and offensive jokes or comments.  Conduct that occurs repeatedly and actions taken by a supervisor are more likely to be considered harassment under the law.

Retaliation

You are legally protected when you complain to your employer that you believe you have been the vistim of discrimination or harassment.  You are also legally protected when you give testimony or otherwise another employee when he or she has made a compliant of discrimination or harassment.  Your employer may not legally fire you nor take adverse actions against you because you have made a complaint or harassment or discrimination or aided someone who has made these complaints.  If your employer does fire or take action against you for these reasons, you may have a retaliation claim against your employer.


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