Many professional employees have shifted their work from the company office to their home office in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It would be easy to think that this shift in workplace would reduce the risk of sexual harassment in the workplace.
No, this is not in reference to spouses and partners making a pass at their “coworker” while sharing a workspace during the day. Video teleconferencing, instant messaging, and email make it easy to engage in harassing behaviors while employees keep their physical distance.
Different Environment/Same Rules
Employer policies as well as state and federal employment laws all still apply while working from home. These policies and laws protect remote employees from harassing behavior such as:
- Lewd jokes and comments via instant message, email, or teleconference
- Comments about physical appearance or attributes
- Sending inappropriate content (images, videos, sound files) over instant message, email or teleconference
- Quid pro quo sexual harassment
You Don’t Have To Sacrifice Your Rights
As we have recently covered, you do not sacrifice your rights during a recession. You may feel fortunate to be employed during a time with the unemployment rate in the teens, but it is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for reporting sexual harassment that takes place in your virtual workplace.
If you encounter sexual harassment while working remotely – or anywhere – it is important to know your rights and options. The first step is getting in touch with a knowledgeable employment law attorney who can advise you on your legal options and begin pursuing the outcome you deserve.