The workplace has changed the past year. Employees in Texas and states across the nation soon discovered the flexibility of their work environment and the ability to work remotely. While employees were no longer seeing colleagues face to face, they still interact with them through video calls, emails and other forms of messaging. Through these interactions, issues of discrimination and sexual harassment still exist even in the remote working world.
Remote work and sexual harassment
The flexibility of working from home has been beneficial for both employers and employees. While there are positives to this work model, there are setbacks and negatives. While one would presume that sexual harassment would not occur in a remote setting, there have been reports of incidents occurring throughout the nation.
Sexual harassment is not exclusively inappropriate or unconsented physical touch. Moreover, most workplace harassment isn’t physical. Sexual harassment in the workplace could look like inappropriate remarks or gestures. In a remote work world, this could be calling at odd times or putting inappropriate pictures in the background during a video call.
Based on a national database, there were a total of 125 complaints of sexual harassment of women in the workplace in 2021 so far. In 2020, there were a total of 201 complaints. While this is lower than the 330 complaints received in 2019, those complaints were received when most employees were still working in the office. While the number of complaints has decreased, this illustrates that the problem still persists in the work from home era. It also suggests that sexual harassment may be more difficult to identify and report in a remote work setting.
Employees should feel safe in the work environment whether it is in the office, work site or at home. Therefore, if a worker believes that they are being subjected to discrimination or sexual harassment, it is important that they understand their rights and options to address the matter. Additionally, they could seek damages for the harms suffered through a legal action.