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4 covert signs of sexual harassment

On Behalf of | Jan 12, 2024 | Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment in the workplace can take on various forms, and it is not always overt or easily recognizable.

Covert sexual harassment is subtle, making it challenging for victims and even bystanders to identify.

1. Unwanted advances and comments

One of the most common signs of covert sexual harassment involves unwanted advances or comments. This can manifest through inappropriate jokes, suggestive remarks or unwarranted compliments about a colleague’s appearance. These comments may seem like harmless banter, making it difficult for the victim to address without feeling uncomfortable or risking retaliation.

2. Invasion of personal space

Covert sexual harassment often involves subtle invasions of personal space. This can include unwarranted touching, lingering hugs or invading someone’s personal space during conversations. Perpetrators may try to pass off these actions as friendly gestures, making it challenging for the victim to draw clear boundaries.

3. Unwarranted monitoring or surveillance

Covert sexual harassment may involve unwarranted monitoring or surveillance of an individual. This can include invasive questioning about personal life, constant scrutiny of the person’s activities or unwarranted interest in their relationships. Such behavior can create a sense of unease and vulnerability, affecting the victim’s overall well-being and job satisfaction.

4. Exclusion and isolation

In some cases, covert sexual harassment may manifest through exclusion and isolation. Perpetrators may purposefully exclude a person from professional opportunities, meetings or social events. This tactic can be subtle yet damaging, as it hinders the employee’s professional growth and fosters a sense of isolation within the workplace.

While the numbers are lowering, sexual harassment is still prevalent in the workplace. In 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received 5,581 charges. Any employee who believes they face harassment has the right to make a stand.