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All forms of harassment can lead to a hostile work environment

In our blog post last week, we discussed a politician who is being accused of sexual harassment. If you recall, the latest accusation doesn't involve the politician physically touching anyone. Instead, the politician was accused of grabbing his own genitals in the restroom as another person was standing in front of the urinal. That might have some of our California readers wondering what constitutes harassment in the state.

Who can be a victim of harassment?

Anyone can be the victim of harassment. Even a person who wasn't the subject of the unlawful actions can be a victim of harassment. Simply put, the victim of harassment is anyone who is affected by the illegal or offensive actions of another person.

What other forms of harassment are there besides sexual harassment?

Harassment can come in many forms. A person can be harassed because of his or her age, disability, color, race, sex, pregnancy, religion or genetic information. If the actions of someone make a workplace hostile, intimidating or abusive, it might be construed as harassment. It is important to know that not all negative actions are harassment. Isolated incidents that aren't severe, annoyances and small slights likely won't be considered harassment.

Can I stop harassment?

You can stop harassment by filing a complaint against the harasser with the company. You must follow the guidelines set forth by the company. If that isn't an option or if the harassment doesn't stop, you have the option of moving forward with more formal complaints that might end in a lawsuit. Knowing the process you must follow can help you to determine how to respond to issues of harassment.

Source: Harassment, "U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission" Nov. 26, 2014

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