Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more Wisconsin residents are working from home than before. For you, this change may be permanent, and it may lead you to exhale a sigh of relief if you have experienced workplace sexual harassment. Yet, whether at the office or online, harassers can be relentless and make your job untenable. No matter your location, it’s important to understand what qualifies as sexual harassment – and how to combat it.
Hostile work environment
For sexual harassment to create a hostile work environment, it must interfere with your ability to perform your job. Certain behaviors that make fulfilling your duties difficult, like unwanted touching, usually happen in a physical workplace. Yet, most can occur virtually as well.
While working from home, your harasser may create a hostile work environment by:
- Sharing videos or images of a sexual nature
- Making lewd jokes or sharing stories of a sexual nature
- Commenting on your appearance, outfit or physical attributes
- Sending you lewd texts, emails or messages
Quid pro quo
Quid pro quo, in Latin, means “something for something.” Relating to sexual harassment, it refers to situations where your supervisor or a hiring manager promises you incentive if you satisfy their sexual demands. It can also refer to any situation where they threaten adverse actions against you if you do not acquiesce to them.
You may have succumbed to your supervisor’s or a hiring manager’s propositions. So long as their actions were unwelcome, though, they still qualify as sexual harassment.
While quid pro quo sexual harassment often happens in person, it can happen digitally as well. If your boss or a hiring manager propositions you on a video call, through email or by text, their actions could meet its threshold.
All employees deserve to work in an environment free of sexual harassment. If you are experiencing sexual harassment at your job, whether digitally or in person, an attorney can help you weigh your options for fighting against it.