Remote work, a necessity during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, is now permanent for many workers in New Jersey. While workers no longer have to deal with long commutes, a less formal remote workplace can become a hostile work environment. If you have experienced a remote hostile work environment, Castronovo & McKinney LLC can help.
Our employment law attorneys work to hold employers accountable when they fail to prevent or stop harassment in the remote workplace. Knowing that you may be reluctant to come forward, we will help you stand up for your rights. Contact us today for a confidential consultation.
Identifying Remote Workplace Harassment
When workplaces are decentralized or remote, some employees mistakenly believe they are unaccountable for their conduct and that employment policies and standards of behavior do not apply. However, workplace harassment is illegal regardless of whether it occurs onsite or online.
While people typically think of harassment in terms of sexual misconduct, unlawful harassment involves any unwelcome conduct based on a victim’s membership in a protected class, such as:
- National origin
- Sexual orientation
- Gender identity
A remote hostile work environment arises when employees are subjected to unwelcome conduct online. Remote harassment can take many forms. Some of the most common include inappropriate jokes, comments, or displays in employee emails, chat messages or video meetings. In particular, harassment may involve:
- Sexual or racial innuendo in online employee forums
- The distribution of offensive photos
- Memes based on protected characteristics
If remote harassment becomes so severe or pervasive that it interferes with the victim’s ability to perform their job, the workplace may be hostile. While an isolated incident or offhand remark may not rise to the level of harassment, an offensive incident may be severe enough to create a hostile remote workplace. Working with an experienced workplace harassment lawyer is the best way to determine whether you have a valid claim.
How To Fight Back Against a Hostile Remote Workplace
The legal standard to prove a hostile work environment is the same whether you work onsite or remotely. You must prove you believed your remote workplace was hostile and that a reasonable person would feel threatened or harassed by the offensive conduct.
Gathering the necessary evidence is challenging if you must interact online with the harasser every day. But take the following steps to support your claim:
- Preserve whatever evidence that you have, such as emails and chat messages (chat messages can automatically delete, so take screenshots)
- Object to the offensive conduct, but remain professional and stay calm
- Report incidents of harassment to your supervisor or human resources personnel
The best way to protect your rights is to consult an experienced workplace harassment attorney. That’s where our firm can help. We will assess the merits of your remote hostile work environment claim and choose the best course of action.
Why Choose Us?
At Castronovo & McKinney, we know how to negotiate and litigate workplace harassment claims and will help you meet the legal standard for proving a hostile work environment. Our legal team will handle all the details of your claim, including:
- Investigating your allegations
- Subpoenaing data from your employer (e.g. emails, chats, video messages)
- Obtaining and reviewing personnel records and performance reviews
- Determining whether the harasser has a history of workplace misconduct online
- Identifying other victims of remote hostile work environment
- Taking over communications with your employer and their attorneys
We prefer to settle workplace harassment claims through negotiations, but we will, if necessary, take your case to trial to achieve the desired outcome.
How Much Is My Claim Worth?
No two hostile work environment claims are the same, but we will fight for damages such as:
- Lost wages – back pay and front pay
- The value of lost benefits (e.g. health insurance, paid time off)
- Compensatory damages for pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- The cost of counseling resulting from the abusive or hostile environment
- Attorney fees and court costs
You receive back pay and front pay if you were let go for complaining about remote workplace harassment. Equitable remedies may also be available. For example, the court may order your employer to reinstate you if practicable. Also, your employer may need to revise its anti-harassment policies and train staff on appropriate conduct in the remote workplace.
Finally, punitive damages may be available if your employer knew about the remote harassment and failed to prevent it or take corrective action. These damages will punish their misconduct and deter other businesses from permitting remote hostile work environments.
Protecting New Jersey Employees Against Hostile Remote Workplaces
At Castronovo & McKinney, we believe no one should tolerate workplace harassment onsite or online. If you have experienced a remote hostile work environment, you deserve just compensation. The sooner you contact us, the sooner we can start working on your claim.