Discrimination, harassment, abuse, and bullying in the workplace: Contribution of workplace injustice to occupational health disparities


  • Cassandra A. Okechukwu MSN, ScD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
    • Correspondence to: Cassandra Okechukwu, MSN, ScD, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Avenue, Kresge 722, Boston, MA 02115.

      E-mail: cassandrao@post.harvard.edu

    Search for more papers by this author
  • Kerry Souza MPH, ScD,

    1. Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations and Field Studies, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Washington, District of Columbia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Kelly D. Davis PhD,

    1. Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania
    Search for more papers by this author
  • A. Butch de Castro MSN/MPH, PhD

    1. Department of Psychosocial and Community Health, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
    Search for more papers by this author

  • Disclosure Statement: The authors have no conflict of interest.



This paper synthesizes research on the contribution of workplace injustices to occupational health disparities.


We conducted a broad review of research and other reports on the impact of workplace discrimination, harassment, and bullying on workers' health and on family and job outcomes.


Members of demographic minority groups are more likely to be victims of workplace injustice and suffer more adverse outcomes when exposed to workplace injustice compared to demographic majority groups. A growing body of research links workplace injustice to poor psychological and physical health, and a smaller body of evidence links workplace injustice to unhealthy behaviors. Although not as well studied, studies show that workplace injustice can influence workers' health through effects on workers' family life and job-related outcomes.


Injustice is a key contributor to occupational health injustice and prospective studies with oversample of disadvantaged workers and refinement of methods for characterizing workplace injustices are needed. Am. J. Ind. Med. 57:573–586, 2014. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.