When you go to work, you have the right to an environment that is free from inappropriate behaviors that make you uncomfortable. While you know that workplace harassment is illegal and unacceptable, you may not be sure that what you are experiencing counts as harassment. There are times when certain types of behavior are actually illegal, falling into the category of harassment, even though they are subtle.
It may be in your interests to learn about the specific types of behaviors that could count as harassment. Lesser recognized forms of unacceptable behavior could still be grounds for you to speak out and fight for a way to make harassment stop. Familiarizing yourself with subtle types of harassment you could experience at work may make it easier for you to know if you have a valid reason to move forward with legal action.
Don’t be a victim of these things
Sometimes, harassment is blatantly obvious. It may include unwanted physical contact, inappropriate comments, threats or actions that make you feel unsafe. However, there are times when harassment could be less obvious, making it difficult to know if you are experiencing something that gives you a valid reason to file a claim or report with your employer. Examples of subtle workplace harassment include:
- Management tactics — Managers may act in a harassing manner by making decisions clearly based on animosity or that lead to the development of a hostile work environment.
- Nonverbal harassment — Harassment does not have to involve words. Rude hand gestures, eyerolls and other types of nonverbal behaviors could all add up to harassment.
- Physical harassment — Physical harassment could include more subtle actions and patterns of behavior, such as touching your arm, bumping into you, invading your personal space and more.
- Jokes and pranks — Inappropriate jokes or pranks that result in emotional or physical harm may count as harassment. Even if the perpetrator claims the behavior was not ill-intentioned, it may still be harassment.
If you believe you are a victim of workplace harassment in California, you do not have to remain silent. You have the right to speak out about what you are experiencing, making the harassment stop and holding the responsible parties accountable. You may benefit from an assessment of your case in order to understand if you are a victim of subtle harassment and what legal steps will be most appropriate.