Sexual harassment is one of the most detrimental things that an employee can face. Often, the harassment is blatant and immediate. However, it is important to note that not all forms of sexual harassment are overt.
There are various forms that more subtle sexual harassment can take, and some of these will be outlined below. The more subtle forms of sexual harassment can be just as damaging and may cause long-term emotional trauma.
Non-sexual physical contact
Employees should not have to put up with any unwanted physical contact, and the intent of non-physical contact is often sinister. For instance, a person may consistently rub someone’s shoulder in a supposedly innocent manner. If this places the employee in a vulnerable and uncomfortable position, it could be sexual harassment. Sometimes, the physical contact becomes more threatening. For example, a person may block someone into a confined space, leading them to feel that they have no way out.
Harassment via social media
Some colleagues strike up friendships that extend beyond the workplace. They may attend sporting events together or engage in other social activities. Part of this often includes becoming friends on social media. While there is nothing wrong with this, it has to be consensual. If a colleague that you are not friendly with starts sending you messages at all hours on social media, this can be worrisome. If you have not responded, then they have no reason to continue this course of conduct. Consent is the key to out-of-work friendships and inappropriate messages not founded on this could be a sign of sexual harassment.
You have a right to work in a space that is free from intimidation and harassment. If you feel that your legal rights have been violated, there may be options open to you.