Like other forms of harassment, diversity discrimination is illegal. Employment discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), or the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/practices/harassment.cfm states:
"Harassment is unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information."
This means that all members of diverse groups are protected against discrimination and harassment.
Indirect offensive actions include offensive jokes or pictures in the workplace. This could be an email or a poster in a cubicle that makes people uncomfortable. Often offenders will quickly stop the behavior if told that it is offending others.
Direct offensive actions include name calling, insults, and mockery. This behavior is intentional and targets an individual or group.
Threats and physical assault are more severe examples of direct offensive actions. These actions are intentional with a direct targeted victim or victims. This behavior needs to be reported immediately, even if there is only one occurrence.
It is illegal to deny a person a job, promotion, raise, or any work benefit based on race, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability.
There are certain diversity characteristics or groups that may not be legally protected, but a company can still protect their employees from harassment and discrimination of all kinds. An example of this is sexual orientation.