A Remote Coworker Is Harassing Me: What Should I Do?
Employment laws are in place to ensure workers have a safe work environment that is free of harassment, hostility, and discrimination. Despite federal and state laws to protect employees, many still suffer harassment in the workplace. As more companies move towards adopting remote work policies, sexual harassment continues to be a problem.
When sexual harassment occurs remotely, employees may be unsure of their rights and protections. Sexual harassment lawyer Gregory Thyberg, who serves the Sacramento, CA, area, offers tips on how to deal with harassment from a remote worker and the best steps to take to ensure your legal rights are upheld.
Do Employment Laws Apply to the Remote Work Environment?
While remote work offers several conveniences, adjusting to this new work environment has some challenges. Without the structure and formality of an office, the line between professional and social behaviors can become blurred. However, workers should understand that they have the same legal protections whether working from home, in an office, or a hybrid environment.
Harassment and discrimination are unacceptable in the workplace, regardless of where the work occurs. Examples of sexual harassment include:
- Making unwanted sexual advances (either in-person or through email, video conference, etc.)
- Making jokes of a sexual nature
- Sharing content of a sexual nature (photos, videos, etc.)
- Quid pro quo sexual harassment (offering benefits or threatening consequences in return for sexual favors)
An employer should address in-person or virtual sexual harassment. If the situation is not handled, an employee has the right to take action. Employees who suffer sexual discrimination from a remote worker should take the necessary steps to report and address the situation.
Familiarize Yourself With Employer Policies
All employers should have an employee handbook outlining their policies and procedures. Employees must familiarize themselves with policies regarding workplace harassment and discrimination. Policies should outline inappropriate behavior and provide guidelines for reporting harassment in the workplace or from coworkers.
Document Instances of Harassment
Documenting instances of sexual harassment is vital to supporting a harassment claim. Harassment from a remote worker that occurs via text, messaging, or a virtual meeting place may be saved through online portals. Regardless of whether an employee has documentation of harassment, they should keep detailed records about instances of harassment, the nature of the harassment, when they occurred (time and dates), and the names of involved parties or witnesses.
Report the Harassment to Appropriate Parties
Employees must report incidents of sexual harassment to the appropriate parties. Most companies have a Human Resources department to address claims such as these. Unfortunately, sometimes HR acts in the best interest of the employer rather than the employee. However, even if the claim is not handled properly, a report with Human Resources creates documentation of the complaint.
Sacramento workers can also file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Employees have 180 days to file a sexual harassment claim with the EEOC unless extended by state law or unless the employee works for a federal agency (federal employees have 45 days to file a claim).
Contact a Sexual Harassment Lawyer
We advise all victims of sexual harassment from a remote worker to contact a sexual harassment lawyer. Attorney Gregory Thyberg specializes in employment law. He investigates sexual harassment claims, gathers necessary evidence, and pursues appropriate compensation on behalf of his Sacramento clients.
Reach Out to Our Law Firm Today
If you experience sexual harassment from a remote coworker, you are protected by employment laws. To discuss your situation with attorney Gregory Thyberg and learn about your best course of legal action, send us a message to schedule a consultation.