The study, which focuses on United States Postal Service (USPS) workers, found warmer temperatures correlate to an increase in Equal Employment Opportunity incidents related to workplace discrimination and harassment.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Act makes it illegal for employers to discriminate on the basis of factors like race, sex, religion, age, disability, and national origin. Employers also cannot retaliate against employees for participating in protected activities, such as filing a report of alleged discrimination. Workers can file reports of discrimination to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Specifically, extreme heat seems to be the culprit. According to the paper, “extremely hot” days exceeding 90 degrees Fahrenheit have five percent more EEO reports than milder days when temperatures are between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The study reports that this temperature-linked increase in discrimination and harassment is “widespread across the USPS.”
“Days with pleasant weather between 50°F to 60°F and 70°F to 80°F degrees do not experience the same increase in incidents,” the paper concludes.
Increased harassment and discrimination were linked to extreme heat regardless of the type of discrimination — i.e., on the basis of sex, race, disability, retaliation, and age.