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Challenge Yourself!

Jorge, a Honduran citizen living in the United States, accepted a summer job with a landscaping company. On his first day, Jorge accidentally broke a lawn mower. The customer yelled at Jorge, called him "stupid," and complained that "foreign kids" like Jorge were "stealing jobs from hard-working Americans." Jorge did not see the customer again during the rest of the summer. Did the customer harass Jorge?

  1. A is incorrect.
    The customer may have a right to free speech, but he does not have the right to harass Jorge based on his national origin.

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  2. B is correct.
    For workplace harassment to be illegal, it has to be severe (serious) or occur frequently. It may be both severe and frequent. But one instance of harassing conduct, by itself, is generally not illegal, unless the conduct is very serious, such as a physical assault.

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  3. C is incorrect.
    People who are not citizens of the United States are protected by the U.S. employment discrimination laws while they are working in the United States for an employer covered by these laws.

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  4. D is incorrect.
    Not all workplace harassment is illegal. The laws enforced by EEOC make it illegal to harass someone because of race, color, religion, sex (including sexual orientation, gender identity, and pregnancy), national origin, disability, age (40 or older), or genetic information (including medical conditions that family members have). Federal employment discrimination law does not make it illegal to harass someone for other reasons - for example, because of a picture he posted on his Facebook page or because she roots for a particular sports team. Even so, some employers may have "zero tolerance policies" that are stricter than federal law and prohibit all forms of harassment. As a result, it's a good idea to not harass others at work for any reason.

    In this example, the customer made comments related to national origin to Jorge. The comments were only made once, so the customer's behavior probably would not be severe or frequent enough to be illegal harassment. Even so, determining whether certain behavior is illegal or not allowed under company rules can be complicated. If he wants to, Jorge should report the customer's comments to the landscaping company.

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