Man sitting at desk at home on laptop

Workplace Sexual Harassment in the Age of Virtual Meetings

While many people have enjoyed the benefits of remote employment over the past year, it has come with its challenges. Many would assume that with no time in a physical office, workplace sexual harassment reports would decrease significantly. Instead, like most things over the last year, workplace sexual harassment went virtual.

Defining Sexual Harassment

Numerous types of inappropriate activity are considered sexual harassment. According to the EEOC, sexual harassment occurs when an individual:

● Makes unwelcome sexual advances

● Asks for sexual favors

● Makes suggestive, sexual verbal remarks

● Physical touching of a sexual nature

Sexual harassment creates an uncomfortable workplace, especially when the harassment occurs between an employee and their supervisor.

While the physical touching aspect of sexual harassment is not possible over Zoom, other behaviors are. Instead of workplace harassment decreasing over the last year, it seems as if individuals have become emboldened behind a screen.

Virtual Sexual Harassment

Some attribute the rise in virtual workplace sexual harassment to the personal nature of remote work. Instead of dressing up, going to an office, and being in a professional environment, we are on video in our bedrooms, comfortable in our homes, and sending chat messages like we would on social media. In this setting, there is a blurred line between the personal and the professional.

With it being so easy to communicate online, sexual harassment can occur at any time. It may be in the form of inappropriate Slack messages, inappropriate compliments on Zoom, or even cyberstalking.

File A Report

Even though you are not in the office, you still have the right to a safe and comfortable work environment. If you are being harassed by a coworker online, file a report with HR or your supervisor. Collect as much evidence as you can, like screenshots of inappropriate messages your coworker sent you. After making an official complaint to your company, document exactly what you spoke about.

Unfortunately, many individuals choose not to file a report with their company out of fear of retribution or inaction. However, your employer is required to protect your rights and thoroughly handle all sexual harassment complaints. If your employer does not take action to protect your rights, Pearson Butler will. Contact us today to discuss your case and learn more about how we can assist with your virtual sexual harassment claim. Our team is here for you.