What to Do - Sexually Harassed While Working Remotely

There are many employees who work from home these days. You may feel that you are safe from sexual harassment and other sorts of discrimination and abuse that employees may face in the physical workplace. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Working at home doesn’t mean you have no contact with co-workers, managers or supervisors.

The sorts of sexual harassment may not involve physical contact but they can be sent to you by email, voice mail messages and texting. If this has happened to you it is important to go through the same complaint procedures as if you were in a physical workplace working alongside other employees.

Steps to Take When Sexually Harassed While Working From Home

As soon as you suspect you are a victim of workplace sexual harassment you should contact your HR with a complaint. If you feel you want face to face contact you can try to arrange a Zoom or other video call meeting with your HR representative. This will give the peace of mind that the HR knows about your position.

You should ensure you record the meeting so it can be used as evidence if your HR fails to address your sexual discrimination. A big employer should have a “Code of Conduct” in place regarding complaints of sexual harassment. One of the actions your employer is required to take is to eliminate the harassment and, even if a court is not involved, tell the perpetrator to stop the sexual harassment or be fired. If your HR refuses to do anything then you will need to move onto the next step which is filing a complaint with the Equal employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC).

The administrator allocated to your case will first of all review your evidence then if satisfied contact your employer and ask that the sexual harassment be stopped. If s/he is unsuccessful then you will be given the go ahead to pursue a lawsuit against your employer in court.

If you are successful in your sexual harassment lawsuit, the amount you may receive in  compensation could depends on the extent of the harm you’ve suffered due to the sexual harassment. You could get back pay and front pay to cover the time you have been a victim of sexual harassment. You may also get an amount included in your compensation to cover your pain and suffering. Because your employer failed to put an end to the sexual harassment you may be awarded punitive damages for the negligence.

How to Prove Virtual Workplace Sexual Harassment

One of the conditions you need to be aware of when providing evidence of your sexual harassment to the EEOC is that there is a statute of limitations in force which only allows you 45 days if a federal employee or 180 days if you are employed by a private business from the date of the sexual harassment to file a complaint with the EEOC.

Once that date is up you will not be able to file a complaint. Once you commence your complaint to the EEOC you should have all the evidence to prove the sexual harassment at your fingertips.

The Types of Evidence

Providing evidence for virtual sexual harassment is not as simple as face to face sexual harassment in the workplace as you cannot depend on surveillance camera footage or reports from coworkers. All evidence has to be backed up by proof. The sorts of evidence you may have available include the following:

  • Text messages from the perpetrator of the sexual harassment;
  • Voicemail messages from the perpetrator of the sexual harassment;
  • Emails from the perpetrator of the sexual harassment;
  • A face to face visit from the perpetrator to your home.

Each of these examples needs to be supported by evidence from the source. The EEOC administrator will want to see that the evidence can’t be disputed before trying to negotiate a resolution to your sexual harassment complaint with your employer. This means providing your phone with the text messages and voice mail messages still available to view.

Copying and saving them onto another device may not be sufficient as evidence. The same applies to emails which should be made available at their source. If the co-worker, supervisor or manager visits your home you should try to record the sexual harassment incident using your mobile phone.  

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