Anti Harassment and Discrimination Glossary of Terms

A reasonable accommodation is an appropriate measure that enables employees or applicants with disabilities to perform the essential functions of their job.

For example:

  • Making the workplace accessible to people with disabilities.
  • Adjusting work schedules to accommodate doctor appointments, visits to a therapist, etc.
  • Buying new, or modifying existing, equipment to help people with disabilities perform their job.
  • For example, providing a keyboard rest for a person with carpal tunnel syndrome.

An action taken to try to keep someone from opposing a discriminatory practice, or from participating in an employment discrimination proceeding.

Examples of adverse actions include:

  • Employment actions such as termination, refusal to hire, and denial of promotion.
  • Actions affecting employment such as threats, unjustified negative evaluations, unjustified negative references, or increased surveillance.
  • Any other action such as an assault or unfounded civil or criminal charges that are likely to deter reasonable people from pursuing their rights.

Bullying is repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators in the workplace. It is abusive conduct that is:

(1) threatening, humiliating, or intimidating.
(2) work interference — sabotage — which prevents work from getting done.
(3) verbal abuse.

This type of behavior has the intent to hurt, threaten, or frighten another person. It can include verbal abuse, verbal or non-verbal threats, physical assault, stalking, or other methods of coercion such as manipulation, blackmail, or extortion.

A person who is protected against retaliation is someone who has opposed unlawful practices, participated in proceedings, or requested accommodations related to employment discrimination based on a protected class. Individuals who have a close association with someone who has engaged in such protected activity also are covered individuals.

Discrimination refers to unequal or unfair treatment of an individual or a group based on certain characteristics protected by law.

Gender identity is a person’s inner sense of their own gender.

Harassment refers to any form of verbal, visual, or physical conduct that could create or contribute to an intimidating, offensive, hostile working environment, including unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Depending on the circumstances, such harassment may also include conduct such as stereotyped or demeaning remarks or gestures, bullying, or the display or circulation

A protected class refers to certain characteristics of an individual or a group which cannot be targeted for discrimination. Protected classes may not be discriminated against in employment on the basis of certain specified characteristics. Race, creed, color, ancestry, national origin (including language use restrictions), age, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and medical conditions related to pregnancy), gender (including gender identity and gender expression), sexual orientation, religion, disability (mental or physical, actual or perceived), marital status, medical condition, and genetic information are all classes or characteristics that are protected from discrimination.

For example, members of a particular religion or race are considered to be part of a protected group. Similarly, a transgendered colleague is considered individually protected from discrimination because of his or her gender and/or gender identity.

See definition of Protected Class.

Retaliation includes any adverse action taken against an employee for reporting a concern, filing a complaint, or supporting another employee’s complaint. In the context of discrimination or harassment, retaliation occurs when an employer takes an ADVERSE ACTION against a COVERED INDIVIDUAL because he or she engaged in a PROTECTED ACTIVITY. An employer cannot retaliate against an employee who has engaged in protected activity. This rule means it is safe to speak up if you see a red flag for harassment or discrimination.

Sexual orientation is a person’s emotional, romantic, or physical attraction to another person of the same or opposite gender.

This content is an extract from the Anti Harassment Training Course Anti Harassment and Discrimination program.

Download our Anti Harassment and Discrimination booklet.
Book a Demo