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Harassment and Discrimination in Business

Every individual is entitled to a work environment that is devoid of any form of discrimination and harassment. There are many forms of such conduct in the workplace, such as racial, religious, age, pregnancy, LGBTQ+ discrimination, and sexual harassment. The paper contains a deep analysis of harassment and distribution in the business. Also, there is information on the legal prevention of harassment and distribution that is resolved through various laws. The discussion incorporates the future measures the federal government will take to curb the issue, and it finalizes with the impacts those remedies will have on the social and ethical obligations of the business. Hence, this is a contextual analysis of the issues involved when the company has a conduct of harassment and discrimination.

The Concept of Harassment and Discrimination in Business

In the workplace, discrimination occurs when one person or a group of people are treated differently because of who they are or what they look like. Protected qualities include race, ethnicity, gender identity, age, disability, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, and country of origin. Discrimination in the workplace can take various shapes. Discrimination against job applicants, favoritism amongst coworkers, and treating employees differently than employers are all forms of bias (Roscigno, 2019). No matter the intent, showing bias toward another person is always wrong. That is why we call it discrimination when someone is treated badly because of their identity or what others assume to be.

When someone is forced to put up with offensive behavior to keep their job, or when the behavior is so severe or pervasive that a reasonable observer would perceive the workplace as hostile, intimidating, or abusive, that is considered harassment. A wide range of unwanted sexual attention or advances are included in the term sexual harassment, including requests for dates or sexual activities, remarks about someone’s looks, conversations, jokes, or remarks with a suggestive undertone, as well as different verbal or physical types of harassment (Kita, 2023). Harassment perpetrators can adopt multiple personas, including those of the victim’s manager or another departmental superior, a coworker inside the same company, or an outsider with connections to the business, like a customer or client. It is possible for the use of many identities to be utilized to harass someone who is the target of such behavior. A hostile atmosphere arises due to the intentional and persistent activities of individuals responsible for wrongdoing. In the workplace, harassment, and discrimination can take many different forms and frequently target members of the aforementioned demographic groups. Particular legal measures at the federal level protect several of these groups. Workplace discrimination and harassment include:

Workplace Age

Employers cannot discriminate based on age in hiring, promotion, or any other official corporate documentation due to laws that forbid discrimination. The most recent data indicates that people under 50 comprise roughly one-third of the U.S. population. The main regulatory body in charge of monitoring employment practices in the U.S., the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), released a significant special report in 2018 outlining the widespread practice of age discrimination against older adults in the American labor market (Kita, 2023). The study reveals that age discrimination remains a significant and expensive issue for workers, their families, and the economy overall, despite the fact that Congress outlawed it fifty years ago.

The pervasiveness of dominant cultural norms in contemporary American society is one factor that helps to sustain ageism. Expenditures of $53 billion in 2019 on goods and services meant to slow down the aging process are indicative of the cultural emphasis placed on the younger generation in the present day (Kita, 2023). New technologies have emerged since the formative years of people in authoritative positions, facilitating the growth of prejudices in the hiring process. One example of this prejudice is the widespread but incorrect belief that younger workers have technical skills. Furthermore, it is worth emphasizing that older individuals with more significant competence positions may unwittingly perpetuate these biases.

A survey of 17 well-known tech businesses’ employers in 2016 by Statista results showed that, in contrast to the 42-year-old national average, the median age of workers within these firms was 32 (Kita, 2023). Bias exists throughout the federal administration as well. With around 4.2 million employees, including postal workers and uniformed military personnel, the federal government is the largest employer in the country. The policy creates discrimination because various worker categories are assigned different retirement ages. For example, according to current norms and laws, federal law enforcement officials are anticipated to retire at 56, and air traffic controllers will generally retire at 57 (Kita, 2023). The main contention is that there comes a specific period in an individual’s existence when their physical and cognitive abilities begin to deteriorate. There are several instances in which the level of precision described above needs to be sufficiently supported by scientific data. This discovery implies that, rather than being governed by stringent, enforced legislation, the enforcement of age limitations in particular circumstances is mainly controlled by subjective assessment.


No applicant or employee must be subjected to discrimination based on their race or any other racial characteristic, such as skin tone, hair type, or facial features. The practice of mistreating people according to the color of their skin is known as colorism. In situations where someone is harassed because of their skin color or ethnic heritage, legal action is taken. A wide range of discriminatory behaviors are considered forms of harassment, such as using racial slurs, making disparaging remarks about someone’s race or skin tone, and displaying symbols that are objectionable to certain racial groups (Cooks-Campbell, 2021). When harassment begins to create an uneasy or hostile work atmosphere, it crosses the line into criminal activity. It is crucial to remember that humor, remarks, or rare, mildly serious incidents are not prohibited under the legal framework. Retaliatory acts, including demotion or termination, against a victim in the workplace are illegal.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a combination of discrimination and harassment. The way that people traditionally view sexual harassment at work has changed, especially when it comes to situations where male coworkers harass female coworkers. Both men and women can mistreat people and abuse their positions of authority at work. Although it can take many different forms, there are two main types of sexual harassment in the workplace. One instance of sexual harassment is quid pro quo. The purpose of this kind of communication is to let an employee know that engaging in sexual activity is a prerequisite for training, advancement, or other benefits (Roscigno, 2019). When colleagues act in a sexually suggestive manner, it is considered a second form of sexual harassment. Making disparaging comments about others or casting disapproving glances at them are a couple of poor manners. These movements consist of both overt and covert components.


It is known as religious discrimination, when people are treated differently at work because of their religious beliefs or affiliation. The great world religions—Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Judaism, and Christianity—contain a multitude of sects, each distinguished by distinctive cultural legacies. This article discusses a few less well-known religious movements and doctrines, such as Scientology, Rastafarianism, and paganism. Employees are legally protected from workplace harassment and discrimination regardless of their religious affiliations. Acts of violence directed towards a person because of their religious affiliation are illegal. Physical and verbal abuse are both considered forms of abuse. Belief is a broad concept that includes philosophical convictions like humanism, atheism, spiritualism, agnosticism, and religious beliefs (Roscigno, 2019). Therefore, it might be claimed that treating employees differently based only on their religious membership constitutes discrimination. It is forbidden to incite hatred or violence toward any particular religious community. The widespread spread of objectionable content that displays racism or religious impropriety serves as an example.

Negative effects on an employee’s mental, physical, and emotional well-being, as well as legal repercussions, can result from religious discrimination in the workplace. Furthermore, such discriminatory actions may significantly affect safety in the workplace, independent of people’s philosophical or religious convictions. Employees who face religious discrimination experience feelings of melancholy, low self-esteem, and challenges building and sustaining relationships with others. Workers may experience unpleasant emotions like guilt and humiliation if they believe they are not meeting their employer’s religious commitments. It is also typical for sexism, racism, and religious bigotry to coexist in the workplace, making it a hostile and perhaps dangerous environment to work for everyone involved. Such incidents typically lead to workplace violence, low morale, and high employee turnover. Workplace discrimination based on religion can take many forms. Things like hiring and firing policies, wage gaps, career roadblocks, unequal distribution of benefits, workplace social events, and group activities are all examples.


Discrimination based on a person’s disability occurs when they are given less favorable treatment than someone who does not have a disability in the same or a similar circumstance. People with impairments must get the same employment opportunities as people without disabilities. Disabled people frequently face multiple forms of institutionalized discrimination. This group is disproportionately affected by unemployment, bias in the workplace due to false assumptions about their abilities, and systematic exclusion from the labor market. Additionally, they are exposed to incidents of bias during the recruitment process. A study in France found that only 2% of people who mentioned they had a disability on their resume were called in for an interview (Williams, 2021). In reducing the likelihood of adverse outcomes, businesses may use the services of temporary staffing firms to find suitable employment opportunities for people with disabilities. There are various work environments where people with impairments may experience bias from coworkers. It is possible to pin the blame for this pattern on either individual choice or professional relationships. The observed behavior could be a series of isolated incidents or the beginning of a larger pattern. This behavior is not exclusive to the office; it can occur during off-site meetings or even when working from home.

Despite the existence of five significant federal regulations aimed at safeguarding the rights of the 61 million disabled adults in the United States against job discrimination, a considerable number of individuals with disabilities encounter difficulties in securing employment, despite their earnest aspirations to do so (Williams, 2021). Nevertheless, many of these individuals continue to face obstacles in achieving the American Dream due to a prevalent social stigma inside professional organizations. Disabled individuals in the United States encounter several manifestations of discrimination within the realm of employment, including inequitable recruitment procedures, instances of harassment, inadequate provision of necessary accommodations, utilization of improper interview methods, and an overall atmosphere of intolerance. Nevertheless, numerous enterprises continue to express apprehension regarding the potential impact of employing individuals with disabilities on their operational processes. The occurrence of this event serves to strengthen an individual’s existing preconceptions of a job candidate who possesses a disability.


Women were frequently fired from their jobs due to their pregnancy status before protective legislation was passed. Pregnancy discrimination differs from other forms of discriminatory practices in that it is typified by employers who fire an employee as soon as they learn they are pregnant (Silver-Greenberg, 2018). This usually happens on the day that the employer finds out that the worker is pregnant. This specific practice was widely utilized and considered to be compliant with the law. Many employers have a bias against hiring pregnant women, pressuring them to quit on their initiative and depriving them of benefits like health insurance and disability coverage that their non-pregnant coworkers enjoy. Both personal prejudices and institutional policies are the root of these discriminatory practices. Accurately determining the extent of pregnancy discrimination on a national scale is significantly hampered by the lack of comprehensive data regarding the professional interactions of pregnant individuals. Pregnant women are becoming more and more emotionally invested in their careers, making it especially important to understand their experiences at work.

The growing number of expectant mothers entering the workforce highlights the everyday challenges of juggling work and parenting obligations. Results from a survey conducted by Childbirth Connection, a group committed to improving the standard of maternity care, showed that a sizable percentage of working women required accommodations at work while they were pregnant. Mostly, these are small-scale changes, with a considerable percentage of women requiring a change that entails taking more frequent breaks, especially to use the restroom.


According to a poll conducted by CAP in 2022, individuals who identify as LGBTQI+ encounter enduring instances of discrimination in several domains, encompassing, but not restricted to, romantic partnerships, occupational opportunities, residential accommodations, healthcare provisions, and public venues (Gruberg et al., 2020). In summary, the results of this study indicate that individuals who self-identify as LGBTQ encounter instances of discrimination and prejudice in their daily experiences. Moreover, they encounter challenges in acquiring access to fundamental healthcare services. Several adverse consequences are associated with bias, which can significantly impact an individual’s health, well-being, and financial status. A considerable number of individuals belonging to the LGBTQ community have expressed their experiences of modifying their conduct as a means to mitigate instances of prejudice, consequently minimizing the potential emotional repercussions associated with such encounters. Younger generations exhibit higher degrees of bias and encounter more significant challenges stemming from this bias than older generations (Mallory & Sears, 2020). Individuals who self-identify as transgender, belong to racial or ethnic minority groups or possess disabilities are at a heightened risk of experiencing discriminatory practices.

When queried about the locations where they have observed instances of prejudice, a plurality of LGBTQ respondents (51%) indicated that they had encountered such incidents in public spaces, encompassing establishments such as retail stores, modes of public transit, and public restrooms. Furthermore, it was found that 36% of the participants reported experiencing instances of prejudice within their workplace (Gruberg et al., 2020). Similarly, 21% of respondents indicated encountering prejudice within an educational setting, while 20% reported experiencing prejudice within their immediate residential area. Additionally, 15% of participants reported encountering prejudice during interactions with law enforcement, and 4% reported experiencing prejudice in other unspecified locations.

Sex And Gender

Gender equality in the workplace has been the focus of much discussion and analysis for years in various settings. This subject has been discussed and examined in various settings, from courtrooms to business. Many legislative frameworks and rules have been put in place to protect workers from discriminatory practices; nonetheless, despite these efforts, sexism and other forms of discrimination still affect women in the workforce (Mayhew, 2021). The U.S. Supreme Court’s district court rulings and opinions cover various issues concerning claims of discriminatory employment practices that target women and other legally protected groups in the workplace.

Historically, women have been predominantly allocated to supportive positions in the workforce, such as administrative assistants, clerk typists, and secretaries. These occupations’ primary emphasis lies in providing office and administrative support. Companies involved in discriminatory employment practices put out several justifications for their behavior. Certain companies held the erroneous belief that women were deficient in the requisite abilities and qualifications needed to excel in non-traditional, higher-remunerative roles. The glass ceiling concept refers to a prevalent phenomenon observed in several organizational contexts when male individuals in positions of authority or with the capacity to support women in their progression toward management or supervisory roles deliberately impede their success in such domains (Mayhew, 2021). The glass ceiling metaphor is employed to underscore the existence of a tangible obstacle that inhibits women’s progress, namely, inside the hierarchical structure of professional institutions. Numerous obstacles impede women from ascending to the upper echelons of the hierarchical structure. The concerns arise from commercial strategies that perpetuate the notion of gender-based discrimination and male dominance in positions of leadership.

Another example of gender-based discrimination that women encounter is unequal compensation. Employers have historically used the argument that women are inherently more vulnerable and have less aptitude for succeeding in business or corporate contexts to justify the continuation of gender-based wage discrepancies. It is essential that every individual working for the company has a safe and harassment-free environment. Every worker must be held accountable for maintaining high professionalism at all times. Harassment at work not only creates a hostile environment that hinders employees’ ability to work together, but it also has the potential to result in costly legal actions. Managers and staff in the human resources department are accountable for establishing a harassment-free work environment. Establishing a comprehensive program that stresses prevention through the adoption of rigorous training on harassment is essential to achieving effective workplace management and mitigating incidents of harassment. A precise and thorough definition of sexual harassment is necessary for the anti-harassment policy to be implemented efficiently. When a term is ambiguous or subject to several interpretations, it might be helpful to employ case studies and illustrative examples to clarify its intended semantic connotation.

Legal Remedies Already in Place

Numerous government statutes explicitly prohibit job discrimination. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides explicit legal protection for certain features, including race, color, sex (including instances of sexual harassment), national origin (which encompasses characteristics such as language associated with national origin), religion, and pregnancy (England, 2021). The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) established provisions that aim to prohibit workplace harassment based on an individual’s disability or the disability of their affiliated person. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) safeguards individuals in the workforce from discriminatory treatment based on their age, namely those who are 40 years old or older (England, 2021). The legislative measure known as the Anti-Discrimination Act of 1975 was enacted to eradicate racial discrimination. Acts of racial hostility refer to public actions that are deliberately carried out to cause offense, degradation, or humiliation towards an individual or a collective based on their race, color, nationality, or ethnic background.

Rules prohibiting discriminatory conduct based on a person’s citizenship or national origin are found in the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA). Also, the United States Code’s Section 1981 forbids the practice of drafting and enforcing contracts that behave discriminatorily against individuals based on their race or national origin. This legislation is commonly referred to as the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (England, 2021). Numerous readings have revealed that this legislation covers various employment-related subjects.

Harassment of coworkers is punishable under the Sex Discrimination Act of 1984 with harsh consequences. The restriction under consideration pertains to a broad spectrum of individuals found in the workplace, including employers, employees, and those categorized as participants in the workplace, including partners, commission agents, and contract workers. Unwelcome sexual advances, comments, and nonverbal cues that are intended to offend, degrade, or threaten the target are all considered forms of sexual harassment.

In the U.S., the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guarantees that no worker experiences discriminatory treatment in the workplace. Most firms that employ fifteen or more people must follow the regulations set forth by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) (Müller et al., 2022). It focuses on those who have experienced unfair treatment because of legally protected characteristics while they are either current or potential employees. Recruitment, advancement, leave of absence, pay, and termination are covered.

In 1978, Congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), which prohibits, for firms with 15 or more employees, discrimination against women based on pregnancy, delivery, abortion, or related health problems (England, 2021). It is crucial to provide pregnant staff with the same benefits, accommodations, and general care as regular employees. Pregnant workers, like their non-pregnant counterparts, have unique capabilities and restrictions in certain areas of their careers, thus, this policy should apply to them as well.

Legal Actions That May Be Coming in The Future

Quality Online training

The upcoming phase is for the federal government to roll out an online training program to teach workers about their legal protections on the job. Even when it comes to adhering to anti-discrimination and anti-harassment legislation, training is helpful. If an organization is serious about creating a welcoming environment free of bias-based harassment and discrimination, it must invest heavily in its training programs. We place a premium on spreading information about and supporting constructive workplace practices and attitudes to achieve this objective.

Eliminate hiring biases

More federal regulations need to be implemented to prevent discrimination at work. An organization’s employment policy must be thoroughly reviewed to end discriminatory behaviors truly. One approach is known as blind recruitment, which calls for removing any mention of the names of applicants and other personally identifiable information from resumes. Hiring a group instead of a single person is also a smart move.

Establishing Policies and Programs

There is a likelihood that forthcoming legislation would mandate the implementation of anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies and training programs for enterprises of all sizes. The concept of anti-harassment conduct refers to the measures used to ensure the absence of antagonism, intimidation, or any form of harassment within the workplace. It is mandatory for employers to furnish their employees with an anti-harassment policy that is implemented from the outset, consistently reinforced, and regularly revised. It is imperative for the firm to uphold existing training programs and actively promote employee engagement in reporting policy infringement.

Ensuring the safeguarding of individuals who have experienced harassment and other forms of inappropriate conduct inside the workplace is of paramount importance due to its significant ramifications for the victims’ engagement, efficiency, and psychological well-being. The necessity of implementing an anti-harassment policy is evident. It is crucial to assign the right degree of gravity to issues. In the presence of established protocols and regulations, an individual has the opportunity to formally lodge a complaint regarding an unfavorable situation encountered in the workplace. This enables individuals to ascertain the definition of harassment as outlined by the Human Resources department and determine its relevance to their own situation.

Effects of The Remedies on The Business Ethical and Social Responsibility

Effect on Mental and Economic Well-being

Staff members demonstrate many manifestations of prevalent mental disorders, including but not limited to depression and anxiety, encompassing both psychological and physiological indicators. Additionally, they exhibit no discernible health implications linked to instances of harassment and bias. The detrimental effects of discrimination and harassment on the well-being of employees are well-documented. Consequently, addressing these issues enhances the well-being and productivity of employees. According to staff members, they experience a heightened sense of emotional maturity and personal autonomy. Consequently, there has been a decline in the participation of individuals in high-risk behaviors such as substance misuse, smoking tobacco, inadequate physical exercise, and bad dietary practices.

Low Turnover

Discrimination in the workplace is a causal factor contributing to high turnover rates. Employees who see themselves as victims of discrimination are more inclined to voluntarily resign from their current position and seek alternative employment opportunities, hence increasing the rate of employee turnover. The mitigation of staff turnover can assist firms in addressing many operational difficulties, including increased expenses associated with recruitment, decreased productivity, and the erosion of institutional knowledge. Therefore, the comprehensive resolution of discrimination and harassment concerns yields advantages for the overall functioning and success of the organization. Nevertheless, the implementation of rules aimed at reducing the probability of workplace discrimination fosters a heightened sense of motivation among employees, so encouraging them to exert greater effort in their work.

Employee Retention

Employers who have a track record of putting a stop to sexual harassment and discrimination are more likely to retain their staff over time. Anger towards diversity, equity, and inclusion; rudeness as perceived by employees; abusive managers; intense competition where coworkers were perceived to be purposefully undermining each other; and intense competition were all signs of a toxic work environment (Liu, 2022). Even when other potential motivators for leaving a job are taken into account, toxic workplaces have been associated with higher rates of employee turnover. Employees who enjoy their workplace and feel valued by their management, on the other hand, are less likely to actively look for new jobs. But the other way around is also true.

In conclusion, discrimination against job applicants, favoritism amongst coworkers, and treating employees differently than employers are all forms of bias. When someone is forced to put up with offensive behavior in order to keep their job, or when the behavior is so severe or pervasive that a reasonable observer would perceive the workplace as hostile, intimidating, or abusive, that is considered harassment. In the workplace, harassment and discrimination can take many different forms and frequently target members of the aforementioned demographic groups such as age, religious, sex and gender, race, and LGBTQ+, among others. Harassment is illegal when it is directed at a person because of a protected attribute or status. Some future legal strategies include establishing online training programs, eliminating hiring bias, or establishing policies and programs to fight against harassment and bias, among other.


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Writer: Shannon Lee
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