Employees Working From Home May Still Experience Sexual Harassment
Concerns about COVID-19 have resulted in countless employees working from home. At first glance, it may seem as if remote workers are immune to sexual harassment. After all, if you are not in the office, how could you become a victim of sexual harassment? Unfortunately, many employees are still being subjected to unlawful discrimination and harassment even while working from home. If you or someone you know is experiencing any form of these unlawful acts, it is critical that you seek the guidance of a skilled attorney to protect your rights.
Email or Text Messages May Contribute to a Hostile Work Environment
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), hostile work environment sexual harassment occurs when gender or sex-based remarks or behaviors are severe or pervasive enough to devalue working conditions and generate an abusive working environment. When most people think about sexual harassment, they assume that the abuse involves in-person remarks and behaviors. However, virtual interactions can constitute sexual harassment as well. In fact, it is often easier for a person to make inappropriate or demeaning comments to another individual online than it would be in person. Text messages, emails, and programs like Google Hangouts, Skype, and Zoom are all avenues that may be used to communicate virtually and harass an employee. Remarks made via video and audio conferencing as well as sexually explicit pictures and videos sent over the Internet may also contribute to a hostile work environment. Quid pro quo sexual harassment may occur between supervisors and employees working from home if the supervisor attempts to gain sexual favors in exchange for work benefits.
What Should I Do If I Am Being Harassed While Working From Home?
If you are being subjected to offensive remarks, explicit media, or other workplace conduct that makes you feel uncomfortable, do not wait for the matter to become even more severe or pervasive before addressing it. Clearly explain to the harassing individual that his or her behavior is inappropriate in an email, memo, or other written form and keep a copy of your message. This ensures that the perpetrator cannot claim that he or she was unaware that his or her conduct was offensive if legal action is taken at a later time. If you continue to be harassed, report the conduct according to your company’s sexual harassment policy. If the person you are supposed to report the harassment to is the individual who is harassing you, notify his or her immediate supervisor of his or her inappropriate conduct. If your employer does not take steps to stop the harassment from continuing, you may need to file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) and contact a lawyer for help.
Contact a DuPage County Sexual Harassment Attorney
Employees working from home have the same rights as employees working in an office. If you have been the victim of sexual harassment while working remotely, do not tolerate this unlawful behavior. Contact Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick & Mirabella, LLC to learn about your legal options. Call us today at 630-665-7300 to schedule a confidential consultation with an experienced Illinois sexual harassment lawyer.