Sexual harassment could be overt and blatant. Gross sexual comments or direct requests for sexual favors would be inexcusable and hardly defensible. Sometimes, sexual harassment takes more subtle forms in California offices. Regardless, “subtle sexual harassment” is no less illegal in the workplace. Employees who feel uncomfortable due to management or co-workers’ behaviors could consider filing a complaint.
A subtle form of harassment
When workers feel behavior might be inappropriate, the actions likely are. If someone repeatedly makes odd comments about someone’s physical appearance or dress, the comments could reflect harassment. Comments that make someone feel uncomfortable could create a hostile work environment.
Inappropriate comments and behavior may extend to outside the workplace. In the digital era, email and social media open doors to 24/7 communications. Why would a co-worker someone hardly knows to send messages at 3 AM? And why is the co-worker asking about personal matters? Take such behavior as a possible red flag.
Inappropriate behavior could take many other forms. Unwanted physical contact and annoying horseplay might not be overtly sexual, but it could be harassment. Some workers don’t want to deal with office tomfoolery that makes them uncomfortable.
Taking action against harassment
Supervisors and co-workers may attempt to downplay incidents of sexual harassment. However, employment law statutes don’t provide exceptions for someone “trying to be funny” or other such deflections. Harassment remains harassment, regardless of someone’s attempts to blame the victim.
In reality, employers may find themselves in more trouble by refusing to take sexual harassment complaints seriously. Yet, the business’s corporate culture may embrace a dismissive attitude.
Executives might not tolerate such behavior, but the problem may persist. Company managers may consider instituting sexual harassment training and awareness programs in the office.