Workplace harassment is often thought of as blatant words or actions that are easy to spot. This isn't always the way it works. In many cases, the harassment is more subtle. Dealing with this type can be challenging because other people might not see what is going on and may not experience the same thing.
It doesn't matter how subtle or blatant the harassment at work is, no employees should ever have to deal with it. Supervisors and others at the workplace should be on the lookout for any form of harassment, including those that are unspoken. Here are some to watch for:
Claims that a person was just joking
Many incidents of subtle harassment include claims that the person making comments or doing things was just joking. Harassment isn't ever a joking matter and people shouldn't be given a free pass for atrocious behavior if they make this claim. Zero tolerance policies can help to address this issue as long as the stated penalties are followed through with.
Harassment doesn't always have to do with verbal accosting. Instead, grimaces, eye rolling and similar actions can harass employees. One incident of this happening likely won't constitute harassment but if an employee does these on a consistent basis when one specific person is around, that could be construed as harassment.
Personal space invasions
There are times when an employee will consistently encroach upon the personal space of others. The purpose of these actions will matter. If an employee is getting too close to another in an effort to intimidate them or to make any type of unwanted contact, harassment might be occurring. Policies should be in place that protect the personal space of workers.
One fairly common form of harassment at work that might not always be noticed is when an employee makes untruthful statements about another employee. It is hard to prove this, but it is a primary reason why employers should ensure they investigate employee claims regarding others workers. Often, these lies or partial truths are made in an effort to bully someone.
Workers who are harassed, no matter how subtle it might be, should be sure to report the incidents to the proper people. Legal action might be necessary if an employer doesn't take appropriate action to curtail and address the matter.