What Is Considered Racial Harassment?

What types of behavior can be considered racial harassment? There is no defined list of what is and what is not considered racial or color harassment. Instead each cased is judged on their own. However, the courts do use a basic guideline for deciding what is and is not racial harassment.

Basically, the courts look at two factors. The first factor is whether or not the conduct is unwelcome. The conduct must be unwelcome. The second factor is whether or not the conduct is severe and pervasive. In addition to the conduct being unwelcome it must be severe and pervasive in order to be racial harassment.

The conduct must be severe and pervasive, meaning that it must create a hostile work environment for the victim or it must have some kind of adverse affect on their employment.

While there is no list of what is considered racial harassment there are types of conduct that may be considered racial harassment. Here are the types:

Verbal or Written Conduct

  • Offensive or derogatory comments about a person's race/color
  • Offensive comments about clothing or looks
  • Racial slurs
  • Racially offensive jokes
  • Threats
  • Racist emails

Physical Conduct

  • Rape or assault
  • Inappropriate touching
  • Stalking or following

Non-Verbal, Visual Conduct

  • Racist and offensive symbols
  • Racist or offensive posters, illustrations, or drawings that are posted in the workplace

These are just a few examples of what may or may not be considered racial harassment, for more information consult an attorney or the EEOC website. 

Racial discrimination or harassment may also overlap with other types of harassment and discrimination such as sexual harassment, age discrimination, religious discrimination, or many other types.


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