The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines sexual harassment as unwelcome verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature that affects an individual’s employment or creates a hostile work environment.
Sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal. It is considered a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII protects employees and job applicants from employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.
Because employees spend so much time interacting online, opportunities for virtual sexual harassment need to be taken seriously by employees and employers. Like in-office sexual harassment, anyone who experiences virtual sexual harassment should report it immediately. No one deserves to work in an intimidating atmosphere or be afraid to come to work.
Online sexual harassment can happen in the following situations:
- The person receives emails, texts, instant messages, or other virtual communications that contain sexually explicit words or images.
- The harasser posts comments or images online about the person that are sexually oriented, sexually suggestive, or are gender-based.
Most employers have a sexual harassment policy. Many employers are beginning to realize they need to make their policies more inclusive of virtual harassment as their workforce continues to, and may permanently, work from home.
If you are experiencing virtual sexual harassment, you should:
- Contact the HR department to understand the company’s sexual harassment policies and reporting procedures.
- Document the dates, times, frequency, and nature of the harassment and the harasser.
- Demand the harasser, in writing, to stop their behavior. Use email, text, and other traceable means. Say “no” to requests for sexual favors.
- Collect evidence. Take screenshots of virtual posts or messages, videotape or record the behavior when possible, download incriminating emails and texts, and forward or share messages to company authorities.
- Document every discussion about the harassment with company authorities and outside parties.
If the employer does not respond or responds unsatisfactorily, you can file a claim with the EEOC. Hire a lawyer who understands federal and state employment laws and who can:
- Assist in reporting the harassment to the employer.
- Help with the EEOC claims process.
- Collect evidence to build a solid case against the harasser.
- Negotiate a settlement with the employer or their insurer.
- Bring the matter to court if an agreement is not reached with the employer.
Filing a Sexual Harassment Lawsuit
If an employer is not taking your complaint seriously, further action may be necessary. This includes filing a formal complaint with the EEOC and pursuing legal action. While every situation is unique, negotiation or litigation can help you possibly recover:
- Out-of-pocket expenses, including litigation costs and attorney fees.
- Compensation for mental and psychological distress.
- Job reinstatement, restored benefits, titles, or promotions, employer policy changes, increased workplace safety and security.
South Jersey Employment Lawyer at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC Can Help You if You Are Experiencing Virtual Sexual Harassment
Our South Jersey employment lawyer at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC can help you if you are experiencing workplace virtual sexual harassment. Call us at 856-235-7075 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Mount Laurel and Atlantic City, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Cherry Hill, Burlington County, and Camden County.