With so much attention on workplace sexual harassment, most people focus on the more overt signs of harassment. While propositions and direct physical contact leave little question about sexual harassment, it is not always so blatant.
Recognizing some of the covert harassment actions can help you stand up for your rights.
Invading personal space
Even without specific physical contact, someone who stands unreasonably close to you, always has to be near you and looks at you in a way that makes you uncomfortable is a concern. These actions may constitute sexual harassment in some situations.
Asking personal questions
If anyone you work with asks invasive personal questions, such as questions about your personal life, sexual orientation or your body, that may also be sexual harassment. Clearly communicate your discomfort with the topic so that you have documentation of your objection in case of legal action.
Having sexual conversations
Deliberately having conversations about sexual topics in your company, despite your communicated discomfort and objections, may also qualify as sexual harassment. Keep a record of the instances, your objections and the subject matter in question. The more documentation you gather, the easier it is to prove a case.
Displaying or sharing graphic images
When graphic images get sent around the workplace or displayed in common areas even after an employee has expressed discomfort, that is another form of sexual harassment.
These subtle forms of harassment are often tolerated by those subjected to it because they don’t believe that there is enough blatant evidence for a case. In many situations, the pattern of behavior may be enough.