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Race Harassment

Federal and state laws prohibit race harassment in every stage of employment. The race-related harassing acts are when an employee is subjected to racial insults, racial jokes, or offensive comments or remarks based on race, or when he/she is intimidated, threatened, or shown hostility or physical violence, because of his/her different race, color, etc. Also included: Derogatory, insulting, or lewd remarks or gestures made by a person to another, which have the effect of threatening and degrading the victim; derogatory remarks or actions relating to an individual’s race, ethnic origin, nationality, or skin color, and the victim considers the remarks unacceptable, creating an offensive work environment or interfering with the victim’s work performance.

Extreme forms of harassment—such as physical assault, which constitutes an offense in criminal law—are clearly recognizable. But harassment can also appear in more subtle ways. In some cases, it can be unintentional on the perpetrator’s part.

Examples of behavior which could be classified as race-related harassment include:

  • insensitive jokes;
  • lewd comments about appearance;
  • derogatory or degrading abuse; insults which are gender-related or of a racial nature; offensive comments about dress, appearance, physique, hygiene, etc
  • isolation or non- cooperation at work; exclusion from social activities;
  • verbal or written harassment through jokes, offensive language, gossip, slander, or letters;
  • persistent criticism; personal abuse; bullying; ridicule; or persistent downgrading by those in positions of power.

Race-related harassment is prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The employee has the full right to file his/her complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), if his/her plea to stop the inappropriate behavior, in a complaint to a senior authority, goes unheard and harassment continues.

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