New Jersey’s diverse and dynamic working environment offers countless opportunities. However, workers sometimes encounter challenges, including the unsettling issue of workplace harassment. Some instances of harassment are overt and easily identifiable, but others are more discreet and harder to spot.
Recognizing these subtle signs is essential for you, so you can act if necessary. Consider these behaviors that can accumulate and create a toxic environment, affecting your mental well-being and work performance.
Unwanted jokes or teasing
Do you often become the subject of jokes or teasing that unsettle you, even if they seem harmless? These jokes may target your race, gender, religion or personal characteristics. When you express discomfort, some may downplay your feelings.
Exclusion from team activities
If you consistently miss out on or do not receive information about team gatherings, meetings or social events this might signal harassment. Such exclusion can hurt your work relationships and professional growth.
Perhaps a colleague or supervisor frequently interrupts you during meetings, talks over you or dismisses your ideas without fair consideration. Repeated interruptions can erode your confidence and limit your contributions to team efforts.
These comments appear complimentary on the surface but carry an underlying negative message. Phrases like “You are too smart for someone of your background,” or “You do well for a person of your age,” are not genuine compliments and can be a form of harassment.
Being held to a different standard
Do you feel you face more scrutiny than your colleagues or that you have to justify your actions more than others? This may indicate you are a target in your workplace.
Unwanted physical contact
Actions such as patting your back, touching your hair or placing a hand on your shoulder can constitute harassment if they repeatedly make you uncomfortable.
As of October 2021, new provisions are in place to protect certain workers from discrimination in New Jersey. Knowing that the law is on your side can help you take the first step in confronting the issue. Always trust your gut. If something feels wrong or makes you uneasy, consider discussing it with a trusted supervisor or a human resources representative.