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6 subtle signs of sexual harassment at work

On Behalf of | Apr 4, 2024 | sexual harassment |

Sexual harassment can be blatant and unwelcome advances, but it can also be far more subtle. These subtle signs can create a hostile work environment and leave victims confused and unsure of how to at work.

What constitutes sexual harassment?

A compliment directed towards you may be honest and sincere, but sometimes you may feel slightly uncomfortable. But what exactly constitutes sexual harassment?

  • Sexual jokes: These may include jokes about your appearance, suggestive innuendo and sexual jokes.
  • Unwanted physical contact: Even seemingly “harmless” touches like lingering handshakes, pats on the back or invading personal space can make you feel uncomfortable and unsafe.
  • Inappropriate comments about appearance: Frequent remarks about your clothing, body or attractiveness make work feel less professional and can be a form of harassment, especially if they persist despite telling them to stop.
  • Unwelcome flirting: It may be through staring, winking or persistent touching where you feel pressured to reciprocate them in the same manner.
  • Social media stalking: Liking or commenting excessively on your personal social media posts, can be unprofessional and inappropriate.
  • Receiving unwanted texts or emails: If a coworker contacts you out of work hours about something unrelated to work, they may be overstepping their boundaries. They are, incredibly inappropriate if these are sexually charged conversations.

If you experience any of these signs, do not ignore them, and do not be afraid to report the perpetrator to your supervisor or HR. Calling out problematic behavior as soon as possible can avoid escalating the situation.

Reporting incidents of sexual harassment

Being a victim of sexual harassment is not an easy issue to talk about. Unfortunately, too many workers, mainly women, suffer in silence because they fear the repercussions at work. If you decide to speak up about an incident of sexual harassment, make sure to document everything. This includes dates, times and specific details about what happened. You may also seek support from a trusted colleague, a friend or a legal professional so that you can take steps to protect yourself and create a more respectful work environment for everyone.