Sexual Harassment in the Virtual Office

The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 forced businesses to make significant changes to their operations and expectations of employees. For those where it was possible, encouraging employees to work from home may have been an immediate about-face from company policies that encouraged physical collaboration in a central office environment.

However, after tech giants like Facebook and Twitter announced that some of their employees could permanently work from home even after the threat of COVID-19 subsides, some have anticipated a broader acceptance of the work-from-home arrangement.

While there are many benefits to working from home, unfortunately avoiding sexual harassment is unlikely to be counted among them. Employees who don’t have to physically interact with their coworkers and bosses can avoid physical forms of sexual harassment, but there are just as many – if not more – ways someone can reach out to cause harm from anywhere in the world.

Non-Physical Forms of Sexual Harassment

It might be a bit unsettling to consider, but nearly any kind of non-physical form of sexual harassment can be conducted via teleconference settings, during phone calls, in emails, and other business activities that can occur irrespective of an office setting.

Examples of sexual misconduct that can occur while working from home include:

  • Sexually suggestive comments made in an email, text message, or verbally over the phone
  • Pictures or links in emails that involve sexually explicit or threatening content
  • Cyber-stalking and related actions to invade someone’s online privacy
  • Jokes made at the expense of someone’s sex or that involve sexually explicit material
  • Any kind of communication that discusses someone’s real or perceived sexual orientation or sexual activities

These are merely a few ways people can experience sexual harassment irrespective of the traditional office environment. When such abuse occurs while someone is working from home, it can have an especially pronounced impact upon the survivor who no longer associates their home with comfort and safety.

Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment & Working from Home

Asking or requiring a sexual favor in exchange for an employment perk or to avoid punishment is known as quid pro quo sexual harassment. Whether or not someone is working from home, they can experience this type of sexual misconduct.

Due to the nature of remote work, however, quid pro quo can manifest in forms that may not be immediately recognizable. Requests for physical sex acts are easy enough to spot, but nonphysical sexual favors can be less discernible. Employees should be on the lookout for a coworker who’s requesting sexual favors such as sexually explicit photographs, participating in sexually explicit conversations,

When tied to an exchange for something the abuse can provide to their victim, such requests can constitute quid pro quo sexual harassment and have special consequences in a resulting lawsuit.

Do You Need Legal Assistance?

For more than 25 years, Marder Employment Law has advocated on behalf of employees who needed help. Whether it was a sexual harassment claim, a matter of discrimination, or another of the many ways someone’s rights as an employee can be violated.

Working from home presents employees new challenges of all kinds, but enduring new modes of sexual harassment should not be among them. When you are experiencing sexual misconduct at work, reach out to Marder Employment Law for support with your claim. We can help you recover fair and just compensation from parties responsible for the violation of your rights.

Contact us online or by calling (888) 796-4010. When you do, request a free case evaluation where you can learn how our services can help you move forward with your claim.

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