What are Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation?

The Department is dedicated to promoting a workplace that provides equal opportunities for all and is free of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. To help employees avoid actions and/or statements that can be considered inappropriate, it’s important to fully understand these behaviors:

Discrimination
The differential treatment of an individual or group of people based on their race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including pregnancy and gender identity), age, marital and parental status, disability, sexual orientation, or genetic information.
 
Harassment
Unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetic information. Harassment becomes unlawful where enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment or the conduct is sufficiently severe or pervasive to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive. “Sexual” harassment is a particular type of harassment that includes unwelcome conduct such as sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or dates, remarks about an individual’s appearance, discussions, remarks or jokes of a sexual nature, and/or other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. The harasser can be the victim's supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.
 
Retaliation
Taking an action that might deter a reasonable person from participating in activity protected by antidiscrimination and/or whistleblower laws. Protected activity includes: complaining about discriminatory or harassing behavior; disclosing/reporting violations of law, rule or procedure or fraud, waste or abuse; and participating in discrimination or whistleblower proceedings (such as an investigation or lawsuit). Retaliatory actions are not limited to formal personnel actions such as termination, demotion, non-promotion, or non-selection. Retaliatory actions are broadly defined to harassing behavior, significant changes to job duties or working conditions, and even threats to take personnel actions.