Like many workers across the country, your employer might have mandated that you work from home this year – and into next year. At first, you might have found this change welcome, especially if you experienced sexual harassment at the office. Likely, you hoped that remote work would put an end to your harasser’s actions. Yet, they may have found ways to continue their behavior through digital mediums. If this has happened, it is important to know how to respond.
What sexual harassment looks like outside of the office
Two different types of sexual harassment exist: hostile work environment and quid pro quo. Your harasser may create a hostile work environment if they intimidate or offend you and interfere with your ability to perform your job. Your harasser, though, may engage in quid pro quo – a Latin term meaning “something for something” – if they tie your employment to the performance of sexual favors.
Both types of sexual harassment violate state and federal anti-discrimination laws. And both types can happen digitally if your harasser:
- Shares sexual GIFs, images, memes or videos in emails or through messaging apps
- Shares sexual stories or discusses suggestive subjects in emails, through messaging apps or on video calls
- Makes sexual jokes about you or another colleague in emails, through messaging apps or on video calls
- Exposes themselves to you on video calls
- Emails or messages you with requests for sexual favors
Documenting sexual harassment outside of the office
When sexual harassment happens in person, it can be difficult to document. Yet, when sexual harassment happens digitally, there is often concrete proof of your harasser’s behavior. If they send you harassing messages, you will want to take screenshots of these and save them to your personal device. You will also want to record any video calls where you experience sexual harassment. After gathering your evidence, you will want to review your employer’s sexual harassment policy and report the incidents to the appropriate party. Likely, this will be your employer’s human resources department.
Unfortunately, some employers do not take reports of sexual harassment seriously. It is possible that yours could fail to investigate your report, dismiss it altogether or retaliate against you. In these cases, an employment law attorney can help you hold your employer accountable and protect you from experiencing further harassment.