When some people think about sexual harassment, they think about blatant activities that make the victim uncomfortable. The fact is that some sexual harassment is very subtle and sometimes it’s not noticeable to others.
Sexual harassment that involves physical contact is often the most noticed. There are other actions that can make workers uncomfortable. Anything that’s sexual in nature shouldn’t ever be acceptable in the workplace.
Examples of subtle harassment
Subtle sexual harassment can include things like making sexual remarks to the victim or displaying a sexually related comic. While it’s usually acceptable to tell someone they look nice in an outfit, comments about specific body parts would likely be considered sexual harassment.
This type of sexual harassment can come in the form of physical contact. The harasser may brush against the victim and claim they didn’t mean to. One incident could be a mistake but it isn’t a mistake if it continues to occur.
One thing that makes it hard to spot subtle harassment is that it may come from people who don’t seem like they’d do that kind of thing. Harassers don’t have to fit a certain profile. They can be men or women, young or old, co-workers or supervisors. It’s also possible for subtle sexual harassment to stem from vendors or customers.
Always report sexual harassment
Victims of sexual harassment, even if it’s subtle, should ensure they file a report with their employer. Keep a record of the incidents because you’ll need those when you make the report. It’s illegal for employers to retaliate against employees. This means they can’t do things like firing you, demoting you or cutting your pay just because you filed a report about being sexually harassed.
All employers have a duty to ensure the workplace is free of sexual harassment. There must be firm policies in place and a clear path for filing complaints. When employees feel they’ve been sexually harassed, they should take swift action. In some cases, taking legal action is necessary. Those victims should ensure they have someone their side who can protect their rights and help them understand their options.