Is sexual harassment common in virtual workplaces?

On Behalf of | Aug 27, 2021 | Employment Law |

Sexual harassment remains a problem in the workplace even decades after lawmakers established sanctions against such behavior. As time progress, technology changes, and the workplace environment may change. Many employees and contractors work at home and access virtual workplaces through video-audio connections. Whether the Delaware workplace is a brick-and-mortar location or a virtual one, sexual harassment laws apply.

Sexual harassment in the virtual workplace

Words and behavior matter and some actions could make another person feel uncomfortable. Suggestive comments or constant harassment could occur on a private online feed or at a busy office building. Either way, the effect is the same. Someone might suffer through a hostile work environment that makes the individual want to quit.

Sexual harassment could involve quid pro quo suggestions or may entail a corporate culture that looks the other way at demeaning behavior. Just because troubling incidents may happen on a video conference call does not absolve workers or employers from consequences.

Taking action against virtual sexual harassment

Documenting incidents of sexual harassment could help those interested in filing a complaint. In virtual environments, a company may unwittingly perform the documentation on a witness’s behalf.

For training and other purposes, the company could record video conferences and store the files. A sexual harassment lawsuit may involve requesting such video footage to enter it into evidence.

Company management might wish to require workers to undergo additional sexual harassment and sensitivity training to address virtual workplace behaviors. Employees and even supervisors may act unprofessionally when the workplace shifts to a virtual one. Such behavior could be both ethically dubious and legally negligent. Employers that don’t take steps to curtail sexual harassment could find themselves facing costly legal challenges.