By Tiffany Matthews
You enter the office and smile at your co-worker, only to realize he couldn’t appreciate your pearly whites as he’s too busy looking below your hemline. You’re used to admiring looks since you know you’ve got great legs. But if the glance lingers a little too long, it starts to become uncomfortable and you begin to feel uneasy. When do actions like these cross the professional line and become harassment? Here are some of the signs of harassment :
Sexual in Nature
US EEOC’s definition of sexual harassment states, “It is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex.” Acts of sexual harassment includes unwanted sexual advances, favors of a sexual kind and verbal or physical harassment that are sexual in nature. Anti-sexual laws do exist but they usually allow acts like simple teasing, minor isolated incidents and some offhand comments. However, these deeds can actually be considered illegal especially when it is severely repetitive, thus making the office not conducive for working. Sexual harassment often leads to demotion or forced resignation, especially when sexual favors are rejected.
Too Personal for Comfort
Harassment at the workplace isn’t only limited to the sexual kind. Sometimes, a victim is not the target of the so-called harassment but he or she feels affected by the other workers’ offensive behavior. Something you also have to watch out for is when harassment happens even before you’re hired, during the pre-employment interview. Be wary of personal questions regarding your religion, ethnic background, sexual preferences, to name a few, because these are discriminatory questions. They have no relevance whatsoever, skills, abilities and how qualified you are for the job.
Discriminating Words or Acts
Discrimination didn’t die with the end of the civil war. There will always be prejudices against color, race, and gender. In the office you will encounter all sorts of personalities and these include those who may have certain prejudices. There will be those who will judge you for your sexual orientation or religion. Harassment is not only limited to physical action, it can also be verbal, which sometimes has a deeper psychological effect and leaves you with invisible scars.
Sometimes, discrimination can be subtle in a way that won’t affect your work. Sometimes, the high level of bullying can create a hostile working environment and force you into a corner where you might feel compelled to resign. Don’t let bullies get the best of you. Check your office policy on what constitutes harassment and how you can file a complaint. Before you file though, talk to your supervisor or manager first so they can do something about the situation and keep those bullies in line. If they are unable to put a stop to the problems, take it up with your HR department and file a complaint. If ever they also fail to address this issue, you can request the help of a lawyer and file a complaint. If you feel that hiring one would be too expensive for you, you can get affordable prepaid legal services instead. Don’t be afraid to fight for your rights as an employee.
About the Author
Based in San Diego California, Tiffany Matthews is a professional writer with over 5 years of writing experience. She also blogs about travel, fashion, and anything under the sun at wordbaristas.com, a group blog that she shares with her good friends. In her free time, she likes to travel, read books, and watch movies. You can find her on Twitter as @TiffyCat87.