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Visual cues and harassment in the workplace

For some employees, experiencing repeated glances, loaded looks and too much eye contact can make the workplace uncomfortable and even hostile. While these visual cues may seem insignificant to many people, human resource managers need to decide where to draw the line to make sure that people aren't harmed. According to some business researchers, this type of subtle discrimination can go unchecked in many companies in New York and other states throughout the nation.

At many workplaces, employees are trained to recognize overt forms of harassment, but not less obvious ones. Examples of less apparent problems may be coworkers constantly staring at the belly of a pregnant woman or always offering to help an older employee to use the stairs when it's not necessary. A more malicious but subtle cue may be someone staring at a minority employee whenever the issue of race is discussed.

Even when employees recognize these issues, it can be difficult for them to report them to management. Monitoring the problems can also be complicated as it's often difficult to tell whether subtle harassment is intentional or just part of a person's subconscious behavior. It is important for workers who are negatively affected by these behaviors to have allies in the HR department who are willing to listen to their complaints.

Companies that allow employment discrimination to fester, whether it's overt or subtle, may be liable for the damages caused to their employees. Workers who feel they are victims of this behavior should seek the support and guidance of a lawyer. Legal professionals can carefully evaluate the situation and recommend a course of action that best represents the interests of their clients. In some cases, the situation may be resolved out of court, but going to trial may be necessary.

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