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Discrimination, Harassment, and Hate Crimes During COVID19

Discrimination, harassment, and hate crimes have unfortunately, always existed, and even are occurring during COVID19. Specifically, during COVID-19, Asian Americans are seeing record high and dramatic increases in discrimination, harassment, and hate crimes. It is certainly not helpful that our political leaders are instigating hate by calling COVID-19, the Chinese Virus.

Departments like the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), have informed employers to be attentive to harassment and discrimination in the workplace against Asian Americans and/or those of Asian descent. These actions in the workplace can result in unlawful discrimination. It is important that employers take precautionary steps including not stereotyping and enacting policies that discriminate workers.

In the workplace, when bias, harassment, hate crimes, etc. occur, state and federal equal employment opportunity laws come into place. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees from discrimination by employers based on race, color, national origin, sex, and religion. Certain fields that may see a rise in violations include recruiting, hiring, promotion, training, disciplining, discharging, performance management, etc. Title VII is enforced by the EEOC.

A hate crime, as the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) defines, is a criminal offense committed against persons, property, or society that is motivated, in whole or in part, by an offender’s bias against an individual’s or a group’s race, religion, ethnic/national origin, gender, age, disability or sexual orientation.

Harassment, according to the EEOC, is unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. Harassment becomes unlawful where 1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive. Anti-discrimination laws also prohibit harassment against individuals in retaliation for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or lawsuit under these laws; or opposing employment practices that they reasonably believe discriminate against individuals, in violation of these laws.

The American Psychological Association (APA) defines discrimination as the unfair or prejudicial treatment of people and groups based on characteristics such as race, gender, age or sexual orientation. It also includes religion, disability, pregnancy, veteran status, and other similar factors.

It is important for employees to understand their rights. It is equally important for organizations to understand their role with creating and embracing an environment where employees feel included. Organizations that have a high level of inclusion are less likely to face discrimination, harassment, and hate crimes.

If you are a victim of a hate crime, please follow the below steps encouraged by the Human Rights Campaign:

  • Get medical help, if needed

  • Write down the details of what occurred in full detail, very soon after the incident. Include the perpetrator(s) height, age, gender, race, weight, clothes and any other distinct characteristics. If any threats or biased comments were made, it is essential to include them in the report.

  • Immediately afterwards, find support from friends and family, professional help, etc.

  • File a report, such as a police report

o If you believe the incident was bias-motivated, urge the officer to check the “hate/bias-

motivation” or “hate crime/incident” box on the police report.

If you are discriminated at work, please follow the below steps encouraged by Thrive Global:

  • Ask the perpetrator to stop

  • Collect evidence and keep notes

  • Follow your company’s discrimination policy

  • File a claim, such as the EEOC

  • Speak with an attorney, specifically an employment lawyer

If you are harassed at work, please follow the below steps encouraged by the EEOC, if you do not feel comfortable telling the person who is harassing you to stop:

  • Check to see if your employer has an anti-harassment policy.

  • If there is a policy, follow the steps in the policy.

  • If there is no policy, talk with a supervisor.

  • The law protects you from retaliation (punishment) for complaining about harassment. You have a right to report harassment, participate in a harassment investigation or lawsuit, or oppose harassment, without being retaliated against for doing so.

  • Filing a charge of discrimination with the EEOC

It is important that employees understand their rights and know what to do when their rights are infringed upon in the workplace. Employers must know how to react when an employee’s rights are violated. Direction and guidance are essential. We must hold organizations to a higher standard. Organizations must understand their role with creating a diverse environment that embraces equity and inclusion.


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