There is no law against being a jerk—but that doesn’t mean employees waive their right to function in a respectful environment when they come to work every day.

“The line between disrespect and harassment is very thin,” said Matt Verdecchia, a senior trainer with Health Advocate’s EAP+Work/Life division, during a concurrent session at the SHRM 2017 Annual Conference & Exposition. “We need to be more sensitive to insensitivity.”

It’s up to HR professionals to build cultures of tolerance and kindness, because doing so is the best way to ensure that bad behavior doesn’t turn into illegal harassment, Verdecchia said. He spelled out the following differences between harassment and disrespectful behavior.

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