Some Texas employees might be well-acquainted with what constitutes overt workplace harassment and discrimination but may not know what to do about more subtle forms. Actions such as looking at a minority employee whenever someone mentions race, staring at a pregnant woman’s stomach, or refusing to make eye contact may all feel like they could be discriminatory actions, but it may be difficult to document or report them.
Such actions present challenges for both human resources departments and employees. It is important for human resources departments to make employees feel they can communicate even about minor incidents. Human resources professionals then must judge whether the issue is a person’s work style or actual bias. For example, some people might not make eye contact with anyone in the office as part of their regular work style. Human resources professionals might also consider how they integrate information on these more subtle forms of discrimination into their training. This can include training on unconscious bias.
Human resources professionals and others in the workplace can also help change the culture by making it clear that certain behavior is not acceptable. In particular, colleagues may be able to step in when actions are more overt.
Many employees worry about reporting even overt harassment. They are concerned that they will get a reputation for being a troublemaker or that it will affect their career in some other way. These employees may be even more reluctant to report subtle harassment. Employees who believe they are facing subtle or overt workplace discrimination might want to talk to an attorney about how to document it and how to proceed. For example, many incidents of subtle harassment and discrimination, when documented, may amount to a significant pattern. If the workplace is unresponsive, the employee may want to file a lawsuit.