At the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, many businesses transitioned to remote work. Two years later, hybrid and remote work continues for employees throughout New Jersey. While video conferencing and other online technologies have enabled employers and employees to adapt to working from home, there is still a risk of sexual harassment in remote workplaces.
If you have experienced harassment during a video conference or other electronic communications, turn to Castronovo & McKinney, LLC. Our attorneys have extensive experience handling sexual harassment claims, including those arising from remote work. We believe all employees have a right to a work environment free from harassment, whether onsite or in a remote setting, and we will fight to protect your rights. Contact our office today for a consultation.
Sexual Harassment in Remote Workplaces Is Illegal
Sexual harassment is an unlawful form of sex-based discrimination under federal and state laws, regardless of whether the harassment occurs in person or online. Sexual harassment may involve unwanted sexual advances by a supervisor during a video conference (quid pro quo harassment) or offensive comments or displays by anyone in the remote workplace that create a hostile work environment.
With remote work now the “new normal” in New Jersey, either form of harassment can occur online. For example, quid pro quo harassment can occur when a supervisor refuses to promote an employee unless they exchange lewd photos. With the use of video conferencing by employees at all levels, a remote workplace can become hostile when employees engage in sexual banter. Remote harassment can also occur when someone sends unsolicited, offensive materials, images, or videos to a coworker.
For this reason, complaints about sexual harassment in the remote workplace are becoming increasingly common. At the same time, sexual harassment has always had an online component because it can occur through emails, chats, or text messages. If you have suffered harassment in the office or the remote workplace, our legal team is here to protect your rights.
Preventing Sexual Harassment In The Remote Workplace
Employers must provide their employees with a work environment free from sexual harassment, including remote harassment. Also, employers must have clearly defined policies prohibiting sexual harassment, including reporting procedures and potential disciplinary measures.
Businesses in New Jersey are also required to provide annual training on preventing sexual harassment, whether employees work onsite or remotely. In the current environment, training should include an explanation of policies regarding the remote workplace, particularly the use of email, chat, video conferencing, and other forms of electronic communication. Under federal and state law, an employer that knew or reasonably should have known about sexual harassment in a remote workplace may be liable.
Why You Need A Sexual Harassment Attorney
Proving sexual harassment claims is challenging because they often come down to “he said, she said.” However, sexual harassment in the workplace leaves a digital footprint. Video conference calls, emails, and chats are stored on computer servers or in the cloud, and that data is readily retrievable.
Once you become our client, we will conduct a thorough investigation by:
- Subpoenaing relevant electronic data
- Interviewing any witnesses to the remote harassment, including coworkers and supervisors
- Obtaining personnel records
- Determining whether the offender has a prior history of sexual harassment
- Identifying other victims of harassment in the remote workplace
You can depend on our sexual harassment lawyer to handle your claim with the care and urgency it deserves. At the same time, there are steps you can take to support your claim, such as:
- Documenting offensive comments and conduct
- Informing the offender that the harassment must stop
- Following your employer’s sexual harassment reporting procedures
- Establishing a record of your complaint through the company’s email
Your employer cannot legally retaliate against you for complaining about sexual harassment or exercising your legal rights and can be held liable for taking adverse action against you (e.g. firing, demotion, reassignment).
Damages We Will Fight For
We have an impressive track record of winning significant settlements and jury awards. While no two sexual harassment claims are the same, you can recover 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 harassment
- Attorneys’ fees and court costs
In addition, punitive damages may be available if your employer knew about the harassment and failed to take corrective action. These damages are intended to punish their misconduct and deter other businesses from permitting sexual harassment in the remote workplace.
Protecting New Jersey Employees From Sexual Harassment In The Remote Workplace
Whether sexual harassment occurs onsite or in the remote workplace, victims have legal remedies under federal and state law. At Castronovo & McKinney, we will leverage our skills and experience to protect your rights, stop the harassment, and win you just compensation.
If you have suffered sexual harassment in the remote workplace, contact us today so we can start working on your claim.