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Illinois sexual harassment attorneysRemote and work-from-home jobs are more popular than ever. Many employees are still working from home due to COVID-19, while other employees are continuing with remote work even after stay-at-home orders have terminated because it allows for greater flexibility. Unfortunately, working from home does not completely eliminate the risk of sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination. If you are a remote or work-from-home employee, it is important to understand your right to be free from sexual harassment and what to do if that right has been violated.

Understanding the Law Regarding Hostile Work Environment Harassment

The two types of sexual harassment specifically prohibited by federal law include “quid pro quo” harassment and “hostile work environment” harassment. Quid pro quo refers to a superior using his or her authority in an attempt to gain some type of romantic or sexual benefit. Hostile work environment harassment occurs when an employee’s job is interfered with due to inappropriate or demeaning sexual or gender-based comments or behavior.

A solitary inappropriate remark does not typically fall under the category of hostile work environment harassment. In order to constitute sexual harassment per federal law, offenses must be “severe” or “pervasive.” Sexual assault would be an example of a severe offense that only needs to occur once to violate sexual harassment laws. Offensive comments or jokes become sexual harassment when they are repeated day after day to a point that they interfere with work. Even if you are not sure that offensive behavior counts as sexual harassment, it is important to report the situation to the designated supervisor or manager.

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DuPage County sexual harassment attorney

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.   

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In honor of the passing of our founder, Joseph F. Mirabella, Jr., our offices are closed Friday, January 31, 2020.I Agree