Top 5 Legal Implications of Workplace Discrimination and Harassment

Discrimination and harassment in the workplace are serious issues that can have many legal implications for employees and employers. A workplace that cultivates a hostile work environment may result in legal action that can hit businesses hard in terms of financial loss, damage to reputation, and loss of valuable employees. In this article, we will discuss the top 5 legal implications of workplace discrimination and harassment that businesses should be aware of.

1. Legal liability and fines

Under law, employers are obligated to ensure that their employees are protected from discriminatory and harassing behavior. Failure to do so can result in legal liabilities and fines. For instance, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees based on their race, sex, religion, national origin, or physical disability. Violations of Title VII may result in financial liabilities and penalties.

Moreover, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against employees with disabilities. As such, businesses must make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. Failure to do so may result in legal action against employers.

2. Reputation damage

Discrimination and harassment in the workplace can damage the reputation of the business, especially if there is media coverage. Negative publicity can lead to loss of customers, stakeholders, and investors. Businesses can also suffer from a negative corporate image that undermines brand trust and loyalty. Business owners can protect their reputation by taking proactive steps to prevent discrimination and harassment and responding quickly to complaints.

3. Loss of employee morale and productivity

Discrimination and harassment can create a hostile work environment that reduces employee morale, motivation, and productivity. Employees who experience discrimination and harassment may develop low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression, which can result in absenteeism and higher employee turnover rates. Businesses can avoid this by fostering a culture of respect and inclusivity in the workplace.

4. Legal costs

Legal action against businesses for discrimination and harassment can be costly in terms of legal fees and damages. Even when businesses are successful in court, the legal costs can be significant. Businesses should consult with legal experts to ensure they take the necessary steps to prevent discrimination and harassment in the workplace.

5. Criminal liability

In some cases, discriminatory and harassing behavior in the workplace can result in criminal liability. For example, sexual harassment can result in criminal charges. Business owners can avoid criminal liability by creating a safe work environment free from discrimination and harassment.


The legal implications of discrimination and harassment in the workplace are numerous. Businesses can avoid these implications by fostering a workplace culture that is respectful and inclusive of diversity. Business owners can also seek legal counsel to ensure they take the necessary steps to protect their employees and their business. Ultimately, the decision lies with businesses to create a safe and inclusive environment, free from discrimination and harassment.