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Signs of Subtle Harassment in the Workplace

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Harassment in the workplace can be blatant or subtle. Furthermore, harassment encompasses violence and aggression, verbal comments and unwanted sexual attention. A study conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics revealed that 1.7 million people were victims of violent crime in the workplace from 1993 to 1999 in the United States. If you or someone you know may be the victim or predator in a workplace harassment situation, notify a superior immediately.

Aggressive Behavior

Potentially violent individuals often display aggressive behavior. Predators may initiate arguments or often belittle coworkers, superiors or customers and vendors. A key indicator of workplace harassment is a change in behavior to a more aggressive and on-edge persona. A refusal to cooperate and social isolation are also indications of possible harassment. Frequently using swear words or derogatory terms is another example of aggressive behavior.

External Indicators

Substance abuse may cause or be caused by harassment. Employees who increasingly come to work under the influence of drugs and alcohol are a threat not only to themselves but others as well. Furthermore, bringing weapons to the workplace or constantly referring to an owned weapon is an indicator of a possible harassment predator.

Physical Elements

The physical composure of an individual can also indicate harassment. Shallow or rapid breathing and clenched fists can point to a potentially violent person. Trembling, repetitive movements and a lack of eye contact can also suggest a possible harasser. While some of these physical elements may be the result of other factors, pay attention to how often and for how long an individual displays these signs.

Victim Behavior

The victim of workplace harassment may also show signs of the activities because they can take a toll on your mind and body. Signs include an increase in absenteeism and employee turnover. A lack of focus or results or any negative deviation from prior tasks may also signal a victim of harassment. Low morale and decreasing company loyalty are also signals. In the event of possible sexual harassment, a victim may wear sweaters or turtlenecks to cover the body more than usual.


Crystal Lee began her freelance writing career in 2008. She has published multiple articles in "The Student Magazine" and for various online publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in women's studies and sociology from the University of Windsor.