Remote 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....