Work and Employment

Risk Factors for Harassment for Employers and Responsive Strategies

Risk FactorRisk Factor IndiciaWhy This is a Risk Factor for HarassmentRisk Factor-Specific Strategies to Reduce Harassment*
Homogenous workforceHistoric lack of diversity in the workplaceCurrently only one minority in a work group (e.g., team, department, location)Employees in the minority can feel isolated and may actually be, or at least appear to be, vulnerable to pressure from others.Employees in the majority might feel threatened by those they perceive as “different” or “other,” or might simply be uncomfortable around others who are not like them.Increase diversity at all levels of the workforce, with particular attention to work groups with low diversity.Pay attention to relations among and within work groups.
Workplaces where some employees do not conform to workplace norms“Rough and tumble” or single-sex-dominated workplace culturesRemarks, jokes, or banter that are crude, “raunchy,” or demeaningEmployees may be viewed as weak or susceptible to abuse.Abusive remarks or humor may promote workplace norms that devalue certain types of individuals.Proactively and intentionally create a culture of civility and respect with the involvement of the highest levels of leadership.Pay attention to relations among and within work groups.
Cultural and language differences in the workplaceArrival of new employees with different cultures or nationalitiesSegregation of employees with different cultures or nationalitiesDifferent cultural backgrounds may make employees less aware of laws and workplace norms.Employees who do not speak English may not know their rights and may be more subject to exploitation.Language and linguistic characteristics can play a role in harassment.Ensure that culturally diverse employees understand laws, workplace norms, and policies.Increase diversity in culturally segregated workforces.Pay attention to relations among and within work groups.
Coarsened Social Discourse Outside the WorkplaceIncreasingly heated discussion of current events occurring outside the workplaceCoarsened social discourse that is happening outside a workplace may make harassment inside the workplace more likely or perceived as more acceptable.Proactively identify current events-national and local-that are likely to be discussed in the workplace.Remind the workforce of the types of conduct that are unacceptable in the workplace.
Young workforces Significant number of teenage and young adult employeesEmployees in their first or second jobs may be less aware of laws and workplace norms.Young employees may lack the self-confidence to resist unwelcome overtures or challenge conduct that makes them uncomfortable.Young employees may be more susceptible to being taken advantage of by coworkers or superiors, particularly those who may be older and more established in their positions.Young employees may be more likely to engage in harassment because they lack the maturity to understand or care about consequences.Provide targeted outreach about harassment in high schools and colleges.Provide orientation to all new employees with emphasis on the employer’s desire to hear about all complaints of unwelcome conduct.Provide training on how to be a good supervisor when youth are promoted to supervisory positions.
Workplaces with “high value” employeesExecutives or senior managersEmployees with high value (actual or perceived) to the employer, e.g., the “rainmaking” partner or the prized, grant-winning researcherManagement is often reluctant to jeopardize high value employee’s economic value to the employer.High value employees may perceive themselves as exempt from workplace rules or immune from consequences of their misconduct.Apply workplace rules uniformly, regardless of rank or value to the employer.If a high-value employee is discharged for misconduct, consider publicizing that fact (unless there is a good reason not to).
Workplaces with significant power disparitiesLow-ranking employees in organizational hierarchyEmployees holding positions usually subject to the direction of others, e.g., administrative support staff, nurses, janitors, etc.Gendered power disparities (e.g., most of the low-ranking employees are female)Supervisors feel emboldened to exploit low-ranking employees.Low-ranking employees are less likely to understand complaint channels (language or education/training insufficiencies).Undocumented workers may be especially vulnerable to exploitation or the fear of retaliation.Apply workplace rules uniformly, regardless of rank or value to the employer.Pay attention to relations among and within work groups with significant power disparities.
Workplaces that rely on customer service or client satisfactionCompensation directly tied to customer satisfaction or client serviceFear of losing a sale or tip may compel employees to tolerate inappropriate or harassing behavior.Be wary of a “customer is always right” mentality in terms of application to unwelcome conduct.
Workplaces where work is monotonous or tasks are low-intensityEmployees are not actively engaged or “have time on their hands”Repetitive workHarassing behavior may become a way to vent frustration or avoid boredom.Consider varying or restructuring job duties or workload to reduce monotony or boredom.Pay attention to relations among and within work groups with monotonous or low-intensity tasks.
Isolated workplacesPhysically isolated workplacesEmployees work alone or have few opportunities to interact with othersHarassers have easy access to their targets.There are no witnesses.Consider restructuring work environments and schedules to eliminate isolated conditions.Ensure that workers in isolated work environments understand complaint procedures.Create opportunities for isolated workers to connect with each other (e.g., in person, on line) to share concerns.
Workplaces that tolerate or encourage alcohol consumptionAlcohol consumption during and around work hours.Alcohol reduces social inhibitions and impairs judgment.Train co-workers to intervene appropriately if they observe alcohol-induced misconduct.Remind managers about their responsibility if they see harassment, including at events where alcohol is consumed.Intervene promptly when customers or clients who have consumed too much alcohol act inappropriately.
Decentralized workplacesCorporate offices far removed physically and/or organizationally from front-line employees or first-line supervisorsManagers may feel (or may actually be) unaccountable for their behavior and may act outside the bounds of workplace rules.Managers may be unaware of how to address harassment issues and may be reluctant to call headquarters for direction.Ensure that compliance training reaches all levels of the organization, regardless of how geographically dispersed workplaces may be.Ensure that compliance training for area managers includes their responsibility for sites under their jurisdictionDevelop systems for employees in geographically diverse locations to connect and communicate.

https://www.ncsl.org/documents/employ/Discrimination-Chart-2015.pdf

Employment Discrimination by State
StateCovered
Employers
Factors in which Employment
Discrimination is Prohibited
AlabamaAge discrimination: employers with 20 or more employees, employment agencies, labor organizations, prints and advertisementsAge 40 and above, retaliation
AlaskaEmployers with one or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, communications and advertisements, media.
Does not include exclusively social clubs, fraternal, educational, charitable, or religious associations or corporations that are not organized for private profit.
Race, color, national origin, religion, age, physical or mental disability, sex, marital status, pregnancy or parenthood, retaliation.
For public employers, sexual orientation by executive order.
ArizonaEmployers with one or more employees, employment agencies, labor organizations, communications, and advertisements.
Does not include the US or any department or agency of the US, or government corporations, or private membership clubs that are tax exempt.
Race, color, religion, gender, age 40 and over, physical, or mental disability, national origin, pregnancy, genetic information, retaliation, medical marijuana*.
Does not include illegal drug use.
For public employers, sexual orientation by Executive Order<
ArkansasEmployers who employ nine or more employees in each of twenty or more calendar weeks in the previous year.
Sovereign immunity not waived.
Does not include private clubs or religious organizations.
Race, religion, national origin, gender. pregnancy, sensory/mental/physical disability, retaliation.
Disability does not include compulsive behavior, illegal drug use, or alcoholism.
CaliforniaEmployers with five or more employees, both public and private, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include religious organizations or nonprofits.
Employers with one or more employees for purposes of employer liability.
Race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical or mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions, breastfeeding, sex, gender identity, gender expression, age 40 and above, sexual orientation, military or veteran status, retaliation.
Does not include compulsive behavior or illegal drug use.
ColoradoPublic and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, communications and advertisements.
Does not include religious organizations or nonprofits.
Race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age 40 and over, disability, religion, national origin, ancestry, engaging in any lawful activity off the premises of the employer during nonworking hours, victims of domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault.
ConnecticutEmployers with three or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include religious organizations.
Race, color, religious creed, age, sex, gender identity or expression, marital status, national origin, ancestry, present or past history of mental disability, intellectual disability, learning disability or physical disability, including, but not limited to, blindness, sexual orientation (actual or perceived), civil union status, pregnancy, criminal conviction alone, medical marijuana*.
DelawareEmployers with four or more employees within the state, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include religious organizations for sexual orientation or gender identity.
Race, marital status, genetic information, color, age 40 and above, religion, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin, credit score (pre-hiring), criminal record (pre-hiring), disability, retaliation, medical marijuana*.
Does not include drug or alcohol abuse.
D.C.Employers with one or more employees, government, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include religious organizations or nonprofits.
Race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, reproductive health decisions, age 18 to 65 (with exceptions), marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, family responsibilities, matriculation, political affiliation, genetic information, disability, retaliation.
FloridaEmployers with 15 or more employees for each working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks.
Does not apply to religious organizations for religious discrimination.
Race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap, marital status, sickle-cell trait, pregnancy.
GeorgiaState employers: employers with 15 or more employees within the state for each working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year, notice or advertisement.
Equal pay: public and private employers with 10 or more employees, engaged in interstate commerce.
State employers: race, color, religion, national origin, sex, physical or mental disability, age 40 and above, retaliation.
Private employers in interstate commerce: discrimination in pay based on gender and discrimination based on disability.
HawaiiEmployers with one or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include religious organizations and charitable or educational organizations.
Race, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age, religion, color, ancestry, physical or mental disability, marital status, domestic or sexual violence victim status, pregnancy, childbirth, retaliation, required submission to lie detector tests, credit history or credit report, conviction record.
IdahoEmployers with five or more employees for each working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, prints or publications.
Does not include religious organizations and private clubs.
Race, religion, color, sex, national origin, disability, age 40 and above, retaliation.
Illinois<Employers with 15 or more employees within Illinois during 20 or more calendar weeks within the calendar year of or preceding the alleged violation, employees with 1 or more employees for physical or mental disability, pregnancy, or sexual harassment cases.
The state regardless of number of employees, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include religious organizations.
Race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, age 40 and above, ancestry, marital status, citizenship status, physical or mental handicap, military duty status or discharge status (with exceptions), genetic testing (under Genetic Information Privacy Act), retaliation, medical marijuana*, expunged or sealed criminal history.
IndianaEmployers with six or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include religious organizations, non-profits, or exclusive social clubs.
For age discrimination, employers with one or more employees.
Race, religion, color, sex, disability, national origin, ancestry, age 40 to 75, retaliation, veteran status.
For public employers, sexual orientation and gender identity by executive order.
IowaEmployers with four or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include religious organizations for purposes of religious, sexual orientation, or gender identity discrimination.
Race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, religion, physical or mental disability, pregnancy, childbirth, age, genetic information, HIV testing, polygraph testing (excludes police or corrections officers).
KansasEmployers with four or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, nonsectarian corporations, and organizations engaged in social service work.
Does not include nonprofits or social clubs.
Race, religion, color, sex, national origin, ancestry, physical or mental disability, age, genetic testing, retaliation.
Public employer: height (exception for fire department, law enforcement, and security officers).
Kentucky<Employers with eight or more employees within the state in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
For disability discrimination, an employer with 15 or more employees.
Race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth, age over 40, disability, HIV status, black lung disease, smoking, disability, retaliation.
For public employers, sexual orientation and gender identity by executive order.
LouisianaEmployers with 20 or more employees, employers with 25 or more employees for pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition cases, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizationsRace, color, religion, sex, national origin, sickle-cell disease traits, pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions, age 40 and above, disability, veteran status, genetic information
Public and private employers with any amount of employees, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include religious organizations, non-profits, fraternal organizations.
Race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical or mental disability, religion, age, ancestry, national origin, retaliation, genetic information, pregnancy, breastfeeding, medical marijuana*.
Does not apply to illegal drug use or alcohol use during working hours.
MarylandEmployer with 15 or more employees for each working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, publications or advertisements.
Baltimore County: employers with fewer than 15 employees.
Does not include private membership, tax-exempt clubs, or religious organizations.
Race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical or mental disability, genetic information, retaliation, pregnancy.
MassachusettsEmployers with six or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include exclusively social organizations if not-for-profit or religious organizations.
Race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, genetic information, age 40 and above, pregnancy, criminal record, lie-detector test, victim of sex offense or domestic violence.
MichiganEmployers with one or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.Race, color, religion, sex, national origin, marital status, height, weight, age, pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition, disability, retaliation.
For public employers, sexual orientation and gender identity by executive order.
MinnesotaEmployers with one or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include religious or fraternal organizations for purposes of religious or sexual orientation discrimination, or nonpublic service organizations for purposes of sexual orientation discrimination.
Race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, acceptance of public assistance benefits or housing, physical/sensory/mental disability, age, pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions, familial status, medical marijuana*.
Mississippi<State employers.
Breastfeeding accommodation: public and private employers.
Political affiliation, race, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability.
Accommodation for breastfeeding.
Missouri<Employers with six or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include religious corporations or sectarian corporations.
Race, color, religion, national origin, sex, ancestry, age 40 to 70 (exception for high policy-making positions and executives), physical or mental disability, pregnancy, retaliation.
For the executive branch, sexual orientation by executive order.
MontanaEmployers with one or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, prints and advertisements.
Does not include fraternal, charitable, or religious non-profit organizations, or Indian tribes.
Race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, sex, pregnancy, retaliation.
For public employers, sexual orientation by executive order.
NebraskaEmployers with 15 or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
For age discrimination, employers with 20 or more employees.
Does not include religious corporations, associations, or societies with respect to religious discrimination.
Race, color, religion, sex, disability, marital status, national origin, age 40 and above, pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions, retaliation.
Does not apply to members of the Communist Party, or include illegal drug use.
NevadaEmployers with 15 or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, prints and advertisements.
Does not include Indian tribes, religious corporations, associations, or societies for purposes of religious, sexual orientation, or gender identity discrimination.
Race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, physical or mental disability, national origin, genetic testing, pregnancy, retaliation, gender expression, gender identity, pregnancy, use of lawful products off premises of employer, medical marijuana*.
New HampshireEmployers with six or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations<.
Does not include religious organizations or exclusive social clubs.
Age, sex, race, creed, color, marital status, national origin, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, pregnancy, and medical conditions, retaliation.
New JerseyEmployers with one or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, prints and advertisements.
Does not include religious organizations, social clubs, or fraternal clubs.
Race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, civil union status, domestic partnership status, affectional or sexual orientation, genetic information, pregnancy, sex, gender identity or expression, disability or atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait of any individual, nationality, military service, genetic testing, retaliation.
New MexicoEmployers with four or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
For sexual orientation and gender identity, employers with 15 or more employees.
For spousal affiliation, employers with 50 or more employees.
Does not include religious organizations for purposes of sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination.
Race, age, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, physical or mental handicap or serious medical condition, retaliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, spousal affiliation.
New YorkEmployers with four or more employees, public and private employers, licensing agencies, employment agencies, and labor organizations, employers employing one or more domestic worker.
Does not include distinctly private clubs or religious corporations and nonprofits.
Age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex, disability, predisposing genetic characteristics, marital status, domestic violence victim status, pregnancy, sealed arrest or conviction record, retaliation, medical marijuana* (starting July 1, 2015).
For public employers, gender identity by executive order.
North CarolinaEmployers with 15 or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations Employers with 3 or more regularly employed employees for use of lawful products off the job.Race, religion, color, national origin, age, sex, disability, sickle-cell trait or hemoglobin C, AIDS/HIV (with restrictions), retaliation.
North DakotaEmployers with one or more employees, employment agencies, and labor organizations, advertisements.
Does not include private clubs.
Race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age 40 and above, physical or mental disability, status with respect to marriage or assistance, participation in lawful activities during non-work hours, pregnancy, retaliation.
OhioEmployers with four or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include religious organizations.
Race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, ancestry, pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions, retaliation.
For public employers, sexual orientation and gender identity by executive order.
OklahomaEmployers with one or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include Indian tribes or bona fide tax-exempt membership clubs, or religious organizations.
Race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions.
OregonEmployers with one or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Federal law exempts private clubs and religious organizations for race and sex discrimination and religious organizations for religious discrimination.
Race, religion, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, marital and familial status, age 18 and above, disability, expunged juvenile record, pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions, injured workers, retaliation, requiring submission to breathalyzer test, lie detector, genetic testing, psychological stress test, use of legal tobacco during non-working hours, person with a degree in theology or religious occupations, victims of domestic violence or sexual crimes, credit history, testifying at unemployment compensation hearings, leave to attend a criminal proceeding, military service.
Does not include illegal drug use.
PennsylvaniaEmployers with four or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include religious organizations for purposes of religion-based sex discrimination, fraternal organizations, charitable organizations.
Race, color, familial status, religious creed, ancestry, age 40 and above, sex, pregnancy, national origin, disability, use of service animal, refusal to perform abortion or sterilization, retaliation.
For public employers, sexual orientation and gender identity by executive order.
Puerto RicoEmployers with one or more employees, public and private employers, labor unions, publications and advertisements.
Federal law exempts private clubs and religious organizations for race and sex discrimination and religious organizations for religious discrimination.
Age from which minors can work, race, color, sex, social or national origin or social condition, political affiliation, political or religious ideology, or for being a victim or perceived as a victim of domestic violence, sexual aggression or stalking, sexual orientation, gender identity, retaliation, military status.
Rhode IslandEmployers with four or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include religious organizations for purposes of religious discrimination.
Race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, age 40 and above, country of ancestral origin, retaliation, pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions.
South CarolinaEmployers with 15 or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include Indian tribes, private clubs, or religious organizations for religions discrimination.
Race, religion, color, sex, age 40 and above, national origin, pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions, physical or mental disability, medical examinations.
South DakotaEmployers with one or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, advertisements.
Does not include religious organizations for religious discrimination.
Race, color, creed, religion, sex, ancestry, disability, national origin, retaliation.
TennesseeEmployers with 8 or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not apply to religious organizations for purposes of religious discrimination.
Race, color, creed, religion, sex, age 40 and above, national origin, mental, visual, or physical disability, retaliation.
TexasEmployers with 15 or more employees engaged in industry affecting commerce, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not apply to religious organizations for purposes of religious discrimination.
Race, color, disability, religion, sex, national origin, age, pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions, retaliation, genetic information.
UtahEmployers with 15 or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include religious organizations.
Race, color, sex, pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions, age 40 and above, religion, national origin, disability, retaliation, sexual orientation, gender identity.
VermontEmployers with one or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include religious organizations for purposes of religious, sexual orientation, or gender identity discrimination.
Race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, disability, ancestry, place of birth, HIV status, retaliation, genetic testing, pregnancy, credit history.
VirginiaEmployers with more than five but less than 15 employees.
For purposes of age discrimination, employers with more than five and less than 20 employees.
Race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions, age 40 and above, marital status, disability.
For public employers, sexual orientation and gender identity by executive order.
Virgin IslandsEmployers with one or more employees, public and private employers, other legal entities.
Does not include religious organizations for the purposes of religious discrimination.
Age, race, creed, color, national origin, sex, political affiliation, pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical.
WashingtonEmployers with 8 or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include religious organizations organized not for profit.
Age, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, creed, color, national origin, honorably discharged veteran or military status, or the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability, breastfeeding, pregnancy, retaliation.
West VirginiaEmployers with one or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, prints and advertisements.
Does not include private clubs.
Race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age 40 and above, disability, ancestry, retaliation, pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions. 
WisconsinEmployers with one or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include religious organizations for purposes of religious discrimination.
Age, race, color, religion, creed, gender, disability, marital status, national origin, ancestry, arrest record, conviction record, sexual orientation, military status, use or nonuse of lawful products off premises during nonworking hours, retaliation, pregnancy, childbirth, maternity leave, and related medical conditions, lie detector test, genetic test, declining to attend a meeting or to participate in any communication about religious matters or political matters.
WyomingEmployers with two or more employees, public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations.
Does not include religious organizations.
Race, color, creed, sex, national origin, age 40 or above, disability, ancestry, pregnancy, off-the-job use of tobacco, retaliation.
Protected Classes for Employment Purposes

Sources: West’s Guide to Employment Law and Regulation, StateNet bill tracking database searches.

©2020 Copyrite Walk & Associates LLC

CONTACT US

Contact us to receive additional information on how to start your petition, create your brand, and launch your campaign. We're here for you!

Sending

Log in with your credentials

or    

Forgot your details?

Create Account