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Understanding discrimination and equal opportunity

On Behalf of | Jul 16, 2023 | Discrimination And Harassment

Equal opportunity in the workplace is an essential component of a fair and equitable business environment. Discrimination, harassment, harassing conduct and retaliation are all forms of prohibited workplace behavior in California that employees may experience.


Discrimination is treating someone differently or with less respect than others because of their race, religion, national origin, sex (including gender identity or expression), age, veteran status, disability or any other class protected by federal or state law. This includes decisions made during the hiring process, how an employee is paid, job assignments or promotions and other terms and conditions of employment.


Harassment is unwelcome conduct based on a protected characteristic that is so severe or pervasive that it creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment. This can include verbal abuse or unwanted physical contact. Sexual harassment in particular, is a type of harassment based on sex and can include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.

Harassing Conduct

This type of conduct refers to behavior directed at an individual or group because of their protected characteristic. It includes behaviors such as taunting, name-calling or making jokes about the individual’s protected characteristics. Some examples of harassing conduct include using racial slurs, mocking someone’s disability or making jokes about an individual’s gender identity.


Retaliation is any action taken against an employee who has filed a complaint of discrimination, harassment or another form of workplace misconduct. This could include threats, demotions or other forms of punishment in response to their complaint. Employers need to be aware that any action taken against an employee for having filed a complaint is considered retaliation and is illegal.

It is important to note that discrimination, harassment, harassing conduct and retaliation are all illegal and should not be tolerated in any workplace. Employers must take steps to ensure that they have a safe, secure and equitable work environment for all employees.