Remote work is still relatively new for many people, and navigating this new world means encountering many tricky situations, including sexual harassment. Most people may view sexual harassment as involving physical action, but this is not always the case. Many times, sexual harassment in the workplace is verbal or even visual. To help those looking to understand what this may look like for employees, read on to learn about a few different ways sexual harassment can happen in remote work.
Any messages making inappropriate comments about sex, requesting sex, or sexual favors, whether done on work apps, personal phones, or through social media, is sexual harassment. However, inappropriate messages don’t have to include words; they can also be the inappropriate use of emojis to convey these inappropriate messages more subtly. It’s also important to remember that sexual harassment doesn’t always have to be explicitly sexual. It can also take the form of unwanted flirting and romantic advances.
Unwanted digital pornography in the form of images, audio, or video, also counts as sexual harassment. This also includes explicit personal images, memes, or gifs. Additionally, any indecent exposure or shared media over a live meeting is sexual harassment, even if it’s accidental. While it may seem hard to believe, there have been many cases where employees have gotten fired for either dressing inappropriately, accidentally exposing themselves, or unintentionally sharing inappropriate digital media.
Virtual stalking, also known as cyberstalking, is a relatively new term defined as using electronic communication to harass someone, including sexual harassment. Typically, this form of harassment gets used to humiliate someone or coerce them into doing something, often doing so through anonymous accounts. They may attempt to extort sexually explicit videos or images, distribute real or fake photos, and join or follow the same accounts and groups as you long after getting asked to stop. The reason why this is an issue for remote work is that the perpetrator is likely no stranger. While they could be a family member, a friend, or an ex-lover, there’s also a serious probability that the perpetrator is an employee as well.
Knowing the different ways sexual harassment can happen in remote work and learning to identify it can help make remote work a safer place for all employees. And for those who may be victims, remember, if it makes you uncomfortable, don’t wait to say something or report bad behavior. Contact a sexual harassment attorney as soon as possible. They can protect you and give you the best representation possible.