Can Sexual Harassment Happen While Working from Home?

For white-collar employees, the modern American work environment is a place that’s rapidly phasing between a central office location and working at home. The COVID-19 pandemic expedited this transition by forcing many employers to instate work-at-home arrangements for their employees to stay in business.

There are many benefits to working at an office with your colleagues, but there are clearly many problems that can come with it as well. Among these problems is sexual harassment, which is any unwanted physical or non-physical misconduct of a sexual nature.

Most people recognize the physical forms of abuse for how overt they are: Groping, kissing, caressing, blocking one’s path, and sexual assault are all possible occurrences that can happen when employees work at a common location. But what about non-physical forms of sexual harassment?

As it turns out, there may – unfortunately – be many ways that instances of non-physical sexual harassment can occur irrespective of the abuser’s physical proximity to the survivor. This has important implications for working from home and employees should be prepared to identify signs of abuse.

How to Identify Sexual Harassment While Working from Home

There are certain kinds of non-physical sexual harassment that can occur anytime, anywhere. The key to recognizing any of them is to identify whether or not there is a sexual component to a colleague’s apparently inappropriate behavior.

Abuse in Emails, Text Messages, Instant Messages & More

Although an abuser who is aware of his or her actions may be more careful than to leave a clear digital footprint of their behavior, it’s entirely possible that you are dealing with sexual harassment through one or several modes of text-based communication.

Examples of sexual harassment via text-based communication can include:

  • Sexually explicit or suggestive comments made about you or another coworker
  • Requests for participation in “sexting” or other virtual forms of sexual activity
  • Offensive images embedded in communications or links to such content
  • Persistent attempts to communicate about topics of a sexual nature
  • Requesting suggestive photographs or images of the survivor

Abuse in Telephone and Teleconferencing Situations

Unless phone and video calls are recorded – which may be illegal in California unless both parties consent to recording – it can be hard to prove someone at work is engaging in sexual misconduct. Nevertheless, you should be aware of what to look out for when you suspect a supervisor or coworker is sexually harassing you.

Examples of sexual harassment in phone and video calls include:

  • Verbal comments of a sexually suggestive or explicit manner
  • Verbal requests for sexual favors such as photographs or participation sexually explicit conversation
  • Making obscene gestures
  • Inappropriate display of one’s body

What You Should Do If You Experience Sexual Harassment While Working From Home

The trend of keeping a remote workforce may outlast the COVID-19 pandemic, but sexual harassment may be as persistent a problem as ever.

Be sure to carefully track and document every email or message you believe is evidence of sexual harassment. While recording phone and video calls could be dicey from an evidentiary standpoint due to California’s two-party consent laws, discuss your options with an attorney if you happen to have recordings on file or what your rights may be if you wish to move forward with a claim.

At Limonjyan Law Group, we can help you seek fair and just compensation from responsible parties if you believe you are a survivor of sexual harassment while working from home. We have many years of experience fighting for clients like you who have experienced a violation of their rights while at work.

Contact our attorney online or call (213) 277-7444 to get the legal support you need to move forward with your claim!