As the COVID-19 pandemic spread and lockdown orders came into place, employers whose employees could work from home did so. While it’s too soon to be sure, this sudden pivot in how people work mean more remote work situations – it’s even possible that events now may signal the beginning of the end of “the office” as we know it.
Again, it’s too soon to say with certainty how working in America will be affected in the long run. What is relatively certain, however, is that many of the problems of “the office” will remain – including sexual harassment.
Despite federal and state legislation designed to curb it, sexual harassment is a pervasive problem in workplaces all across the United States. Not only is it a widespread problem, but it’s an adaptive one, too. The perpetrators of sexual harassment are more than likely inclined to engage in their misconduct regardless of company policies or laws in place that threaten to punish them for doing so.
From this, it’s reasonable to assume that sexual harassment will continue as more and more companies adopt a work-from-home or some hybrid model going forward. Because certain perpetrators aren’t disinclined by potential consequences of their actions, they are probably not anymore disinclined by proximity to their coworkers.
How to Recognize Sexual Harassment While Working on a Remote Basis
An optimist would hope instances of sexual misconduct may decrease if more employees are working from home, but the overall problem isn’t going away. This is because sexual harassment isn’t solely defined by physical misconduct; there are many nonphysical forms of harassment that can occur within or beyond the office environment.
Examples of non-physical sexual harassment against employees working from home can include the following:
- Requesting sexual favors in exchange for career advancement or protection from termination
- Sexually offensive comments or jokes written in emails or instant messages, or spoken during videoconferences
- Exposing one’s body during a videoconference, or demanding a coworker to do so
- Links or attachments that contain sexually explicit or offensive imagery
- Sharing media that discriminates against a sex
- Engaging in “online stalking” behavior or harassing a coworker on social media
The most important takeaway here is that behavior such as that listed above can be regarded as workplace sexual harassment regardless of whether or not you work in an office or are on the clock when it happens.
Do You Need Legal Assistance?
Employees who believe they are victims of sexual harassment while working from home should consult with an employment law attorney as soon as possible.
Our attorneys at Bailess Smith PLLC have the experience and knowledge necessary to advise you of your legal options if you believe your rights were violated. We have more than 25 years of combined experience helping all sorts of people seek fair and just compensation from their employers after their employment rights were violated at work.
If you wish to seek legal representation that can help you validate and move forward with your claim, reach out to Bailess Smith PLLC online or call (304) 553-0337 and request a free initial consultation.