Regardless of how long you have been in the workforce, you realize sexual harassment is offensive, harmful and downright icky. While moving from an in-office arrangement to a work-from-home one may take you physically away from a harasser, telework can make sexual harassment even worse.
Sexual harassment does not require face-to-face interactions. Even though you may rarely see your colleagues in person, your managers or coworkers continue to have a variety of options to treat you unacceptably. Fortunately, you have the law on your side.
Sexual harassment is always improper
According to reporting from NPR, more than 80% of women in the workforce have experienced sexual harassment. Still, sexual harassment does not have to be a way of life for women or anyone else, as it is always improper. When telecommuting, though, employees may have a more difficult time documenting inappropriate behaviors.
Teleworkers work in isolated environments
When sexual harassment happens in conventional workspaces, there are often witnesses. That may not be the case with teleworking, however. Often, because they work in isolated environments, teleworkers only have their version of events. If there are e-mails, text messages, video recordings or other pieces of evidence, making a sexual harassment complaint may be easier.
Employers have a duty to investigate
Savvy employers recognize the importance of accepting sexual harassment complaints and conducting appropriate investigations. If a company ignores a complaint, fails to investigate one or even encourages sexual harassment, it may be liable for damages. The same is true if the employer retaliates against an employee who complains about sexual harassment.
Ultimately, having a large number of teleworkers does not excuse employers from their legal duty to address incidences of sexual harassment.