- Giving your coworker a 60th birthday card that says something about being "over the hill." - Unlawful harassment - you can't treat people differently because of their age.
- Telling blonde jokes in front of a blonde coworker - NOT harassment. It's totally ok to insult someone's hair color, because hair color isn't protected under harassment laws. (Age, race, sex, disability, disease, ethnicity, pregnancy, and gender are protected.)
- Telling your coworker she looks nice in her new dress - Unlawful harassment - she might feel like you're making sexual advances toward her and/or harassing her based on her sex.
- Not hiring someone because they have blue eyes or being really mean to anyone with blue eyes- Totally ok.
- Giving your coworker a hug - Unlawful harassment. You're not allowed to touch your coworkers, because even if they don't mind, it might offend someone else who sees it. (On the painfully obvious side, they did make sure to spell out that sitting on a coworker's lap is inappropriate. Unless your coworker is Santa Claus, I'm thinking that this one was a no-brainer.)
- Asking your coworker who just lost 50 pounds for diet tips or telling them they look great after their weight loss- Unlawful harassment. They could have lost weight because they have a disability or a disease. You're not even supposed to comment that they lost weight. So, if you think you look great because you recently lost 75 pounds, but you're mad because no one at work has even noticed, it might just be that they don't want to get sued on the off-chance that you've lost weight because you have AIDS.
- Offering to help your pregnant coworker do some part of her job - Unlawful harassment. Showing preferential treatment to someone based on one of the "protected" criteria can be considered unlawful harassment. So if your pregnant coworker needs to lift something heavy, I guess she'll just have to do it herself. (I'm thinking that this whole "preferential treatment based on 'protected' categories" thing also means that males who open doors for their female colleagues are just begging for a lawsuit.)
I also learned, thanks to the ultra-realistic sample situations that were in the training module, that if I throw a burrito at a coworker's boyfriend when I'm on my lunch break and away from the office, it's still considered workplace violence because I'm on company time, even though he's not a coworker, I'm not at the office, and the burrito didn't hit him. (Throwing a BURRITO at someone?? That was the best example they could come up with??)
So, I'd like to go ahead and offer an apology to my coworkers and the world at large. I'm sorry - I take it all back. That dress looks AWFUL on you (for completely non-sexual reasons), I didn't mean to insult you by implying that you being nine months pregnant warranted me offering my help in carrying that heavy box, and I'll never hug you again.
On the bright side, I did receive a "certificate of completion" for "Unlawful Harassment Prevention," so if you're wondering if it's acceptable to mention to your coworker that you didn't particularly like the movie "Brokeback Mountain" (completely unacceptable, for the record), feel free to ask me! I'll just be sitting here with masking tape over my mouth.
*For some reason (perhaps a new and as-of-yet undiscovered personality disorder), I feel the need to add a disclaimer that this is an edited version of one of the last posts that I wrote on my old, now-deceased blog. It's not like I'm plagiarizing myself, but I felt the need to share that.