Even before the pandemic, people were working remotely. However, COVID resulted in more and more people shifting to remote work. Remote work has several benefits. For example, it allows employees to have a better work-life balance, eliminates commuting costs, increases productivity, and reduces childcare costs. Unfortunately, one thing that remote work has not managed to reduce is workplace sexual harassment. Harassers now have new ways of targeting their victims.
If you are unsure whether sexual harassment in the remote workplace is unlawful, you should know it is. Sexual harassment is against the law, whether it happens in person or online. Below, we discuss examples of conduct that might constitute unlawful remote workplace sexual harassment and what to do if you are a remote worker who has been sexually harassed.
Examples of Conduct That Can Constitute Illegal Remote Workplace Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual behavior that creates a hostile or uncomfortable work environment for a worker. A hostile work environment can arise when you experience persistent harassment over a period of time or experience one severe incident of harassment that a reasonable individual would believe could create a hostile work environment.
In a remote workplace, physical harassment may not occur. However, a remote worker can be sexually harassed in many other ways. Below are some examples of remote workplace sexual harassment;
- Sending pornographic content or pornographic website links
- Sending requests for sexual favors via email, texts, or messaging apps
- Flirtatious remarks during online meetings
- Online stalking
- Showing intimate body parts during remote meetings
- Making unwanted sexual advances via email, texts, calls, or messaging apps
- Screenshotting images of a worker during a remote meeting and posting them online, sharing with others, or using the images to create inappropriate content
- Sharing inappropriate sexual stories
- Making derogatory comments about a worker’s body or gender during an online meeting
What to Do if You are a Remote Worker Who Has Been Sexually Harassed
Sexual harassment, regardless of whether it happens in person or online, can substantially damage a survivor. It is crucial that you know how to respond if you are a remote worker who has been sexually harassed. By understanding how to respond, you can, among other things, stand up for yourself and other workers who may be experiencing the same and potentially recover compensation for the damages suffered due to the harassment.
If you are a remote worker who has been sexually harassed, the following are some of the steps you can take;
- Tell the offender to refrain from harassing you: You need to make it clear to the perpetrator that their conduct is unwelcome and that you want them to stop.
- Report the sexual harassment: If after informing the offender that their conduct is unwelcome and you want them to stop, they do not stop, or you fear you are not safe, report the matter to the HR department.
- Gather evidence: Collecting evidence of sexual harassment can help substantiate your claim. Save emails and texts, or take screenshots.
- Contact a lawyer: If, after reporting the matter, your employer does not handle things correctly, contact a lawyer. You can also contact a lawyer if you need advice before making a report or reaching out to the perpetrator.
Contact The Trabosh Law Firm
If you or a remote worker you know has been sexually harassed, contact the employment lawyer at The Trabosh Law Firm to schedule a free consultation.