Sexual harassment creates a hostile work environment. According to the U.S equal employment opportunity commission (EEOC), it is unlawful to harass someone based on their sex. Sexual harassment includes unwelcomed sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and physical or verbal sexual conduct. These can be obvious but, at times, subtle.
Here are three subtle signs of sexual harassment in the workplace:
Sexualized jokes and comments
Coworkers and seniors can make jokes and have nonwork-related discussions during breaks. However, these conversations should not be sexual. Thus, you should be alarmed when someone makes a sexually explicit joke or comment about your body or the gender you belong to. This can make you uncomfortable, creating a hostile work environment for you.
Today’s work setting significantly depends on online platforms. Many people work from home, and coworkers communicate using online methods. While this is a beneficial step for businesses, it has increased the chances of sexual harassment. Sending messages or images with sexualized content may constitute sexual harassment.
In the office, this sexual harassment form can occur when someone shows you a sexualized image or video.
Sexual conversations not addressed to you
Even though it’s not right, some people in the office talk about anything, including sexual experiences. This can affect you if they are having a sexual conversation, not addressed to you but in your presence. Just because they were not talking to you doesn’t mean it’s not harassment. They knew you were present and chose to have the conversation, making you uncomfortable.
Sexual harassment, whether obvious or subtle, will make you uncomfortable. If you are uncertain if your experience constitutes harassment, you could get legal help to determine the best steps to protect your rights.