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How Remote Employees Can Be Subject to Online Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment plagues workplaces across the country, from corporate offices to fast-food restaurants. Perhaps surprisingly, the transition to remote work prompted by the Covid pandemic has not abated the problem. Although lack of physical contact would seem to present fewer opportunities for one person to harass another, workers are often victimized by online sexual harassment.

In 2021, employee feedback company AllVoices conducted a study called The State of Workplace Harassment. It revealed that 38 percent of workers experienced harassment remotely, through channels like email, video conferencing, phone and intra-office chat tools. Further, 24 percent of workers surveyed said harassment got worse after the shift to remote work. That same year, in a separate survey by Project Include, 26 percent of respondents said they had seen an increase in gender-based harassment after moving to remote work. That number rose to 40 percent when looking specifically at the responses of women and non-binary workers.

A partial explanation for the trend is that the very tools that enable working from home also allow for transmitting unwanted sexually related messages. Here are a few examples:

  • Sexually suggestive comments sent via instant messages
  • Sexually charged memes or photos shared by emails or messages
  • Links to “not safe for work” websites sent as a prank
  • Gender-specific comments made during video meetings

Sexual harassment of remote workers is facilitated by a combination of factors:

  • With people working at home, there are fewer witnesses to notice or report incidents of harassment.
  • The wide presence of social media and information sharing in daily life may be leading people to feel too free to share inappropriate things at work.
  • In a remote environment, employees can’t simply walk over to their manager’s office or the HR department to report being harassed.

While remote work eliminates offenses like inappropriate physical touching and physical assaults, it does not prevent the damage that online sexual harassment can inflict on those who experience it. In fact, online harassment is especially stressful and demoralizing since it happens to victims inside their homes, where they are supposed to be safe.

If you have been harassed while working from home, you have rights. Typically, before pursuing legal action, you must report the issue to your HR department or to company management. The law says companies must be made aware of the problem and be given a chance to correct it before they can be sued. Take notes and document everything that happens to you. If reporting the harassment doesn’t correct the issue, talk to a New Jersey employment lawyer about making a legal claim.

At Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in Hackensack, our lawyers advise and represent workers who have been sexually harassed on the job. You can call our office at 551-245-8894 or contact us online to talk to an attorney and learn more about your legal rights.

Neil  H.  Deutsch Attorney Photo
Neil H. Deutsch

Neil H. Deutsch has been practicing law for over 35 years and is known as a skilled negotiator in employment and discrimination law. He believes in a bottom-line approach of risk analysis and cost effectiveness for his clients. "Case evaluation is something we take seriously," says Mr. Deutsch who seeks top net dollar for his…

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Bruce L. Atkins
Senior Partner

Bruce L. Atkins is the Senior Managing Partner at Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt P.C., a prominent plaintiff employment law firm in the tri-state area. Mr. Atkins believes employees’ rights should be aggressively pursued when they’ve been wrongfully dealt with by their employers. He brings this philosophy to his practice when considering each case and its…

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Adam J. Kleinfeldt

Adam J. Kleinfeldt joined Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in March of 2015.  He primarily represents individuals in employment litigation such as discrimination, retaliation and whistle blowing matters. He has extensive experience in all phases of the litigation process. Adam has obtained significant results for his clients, including a $525,000 jury verdict in a sexual…

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Debra M. McGarvey

Debra M. McGarvey joined Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in December 2019. She has extensive experience defending employees and employers in state and federal court in employment litigation matters. She has represented clients on various issues arising out of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD), the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA), the…

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Carly Skarbnik Meredith

Carly Skarbnik Meredith, Esq. is a Partner at the firm. Carly has focused her career exclusively in the field of employment law. She has a plethora of experience representing both employees and employers with their employment issues, needs, and concerns. She believes representing both employees and employers has made her an extremely well-rounded client advocate.…


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