The transition to a hybrid office/remote workplace has brought new challenges with it, many of which are related to workplace harassment. As employees find themselves doing remote work away from traditional office settings, the line between professional and personal conduct can become blurred. Without the physical proximity of an office environment, workers may have felt more protected from harassment at first, but are now beginning to understand that they may only be more vulnerable.
Before, when people faced harassment in the physical workplace, it didn’t follow them home. This isn’t true for many of the worst cases, but change breeds innovation, even in the worst of endeavors. Since more and more businesses have gone remote or become a hybrid workplace, the number of harassment cases has dropped. Yet, 38% still experience harassment remotely through avenues like email, video conferencing, chat apps, or by phone. 24% of the same population reported that the harassment they experienced remotely was worse than in person at the office.
Many of those who make workplaces hostile have realized two things: it can be harder to prove harassment over remote channels, and it’s easier to defend themselves against accusations with no witnesses. Remote work harassment is also incredibly difficult to define, especially through text platforms.
If you have been experiencing remote work harassment or think you might be, the employment law attorneys at Barrett & Farahany can explain what this is so you can identify it and defend yourself from it.
What is Remote Work Harassment?
Remote work harassment is any form of unwanted or hostile behavior that occurs in a remote work setting. It can involve behavior such as:
- Verbal abuse
- Any other behavior that creates a hostile work environment
Remote work harassment can occur through various communication channels, including:
- Instant messaging platforms
- Video calls
- Any other forms of virtual communication.
It is important to note that remote work harassment has the same negative impact on your mental health as in-person harassment. Employees who experience remote work harassment may face emotional distress, decreased productivity, and a decline in overall well-being.
What Can Employers Do?
Employers should create clear policies on what constitutes harassment in the remote workplace, just as they would for an office workplace. This includes responses to things like unwelcome sexual advances and other forms of misconduct.
They should also mandate training for managers and employees about what is acceptable behavior online and in person. This training should include educating them on what resources are available for reporting incidents of harassment.
By taking these steps, employers can create an environment that is free from discrimination and harassment for their remote workers. It’s also important to recognize that there are additional challenges in preventing workplace harassment when it takes place remotely. To remain effective, employers should stay up-to-date with the changing legal landscape and be willing to adjust their policies accordingly.
What Can Employees Do?
Employees can take several steps to combat remote work harassment:
- Familiarize Yourself with Company Policies: You need to know your organization’s policies regarding remote work harassment to utilize them. Review their guidelines, code of conduct, and reporting procedures.
- Document Incidents: Keep a record of any incidents of harassment that occur during remote work. Some online communication portals will track and record important details for you, such as dates, times, individuals involved, and the nature of the harassment. When it’s digitally recorded, there’s much more credence to it than just your word that something happened at a specific time.
- Report to Appropriate Channels: This can never be said enough, but Human Resources is there to protect your company. Don’t report an incident with them expecting them to do something if it’s not in the company’s best interests. Report the incident to them so there is documentation that you can call upon, and so they can’t use your lack of reporting against you. There is a chance that they do what they are supposed to do, but if they fail to respond to the incident you reported, you need an attorney.
- Contact an Attorney: The only person who is going to be on your side and can help you is an attorney. We do not want to help your employer. Even if you’ve reported the incident to Human Resources and they show signs that they are going to respond appropriately, have one of our employment law attorneys on call. If HR doesn’t help you, you should be prepared to legally respond.
Contact Our Employment Law Attorneys Today
Remember, remote work harassment is a collective effort. Not only does there need to be a harasser, there needs to be an employer who allowed it to happen in the first place. If you are a victim, you are not alone and you should not have to take harassment lying down. By taking these steps and raising awareness about your issue, you can challenge your employer and harasser(s) so you can get the compensation and peace of mind that you deserve.
The employment law attorneys at Barrett & Farahany have been helping people who have been the victims of harassment in person and during remote work. We have the experience, manpower, and will to help you. Contact us today.