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3 kinds of employment misconduct businesses must avoid

On Behalf of | Jun 25, 2024 | Employment Law

Many employers operate private establishments, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have to follow many of the same laws that public sector entities do. For example, there are specific things they must do and others they can’t do when it comes to their employees.

No employer should ever allow unlawful forms of discrimination, harassment or retaliation in the workplace. These forbidden actions may lead to lawsuits against a business, and they may all lead to the creation of work environment that’s likely not conducive to getting the job done.


Discrimination occurs when an employee or applicant is treated differently because of protected factors, such as sex, race, color, religion, age, national origin, disability or generic information. These are protected in a variety of laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

It can happen in a variety of ways, including during the hiring, firing, promotion or job assignment process. It can also involve the issuance of benefits. The key point is that these actions must be based on a protected status.


Harassment in the workplace involves unwanted contact that’s based on a protected status. This type of behavior creates a hostile, offensive or intimidating work environment. Harassment comes in many forms, including physical actions, visual displays or verbal remarks.

Harassment can be committed by co-workers, supervisors, clients or vendors. Employers have a duty to prevent harassment by anyone while the person is at work, and it must be stopped immediately if does occur.


Retaliation occurs when an employer takes adverse action against an employee for engaging in legally protected activities, such as filing a discrimination or harassment complaint, participating in an investigation or opposing discriminatory practices. Adverse actions can include termination, demotion, pay reduction or other changes that negatively impact the employee’s employment conditions.

One of the best ways to mitigate the risk of lawsuits concerning discrimination, harassment and retaliation is for companies to set clear policies against these practices. Working with a legal representative to establish such policies and address any related complaints can also help to ensure that business interests are protected as a company’s employment situation evolves.