Over the decades, workplace dynamics in the Washington, D.C. metro area and elsewhere have changed in many ways. Particularly over the last two years, dynamics have changed substantially as companies, employers and employees have had to adapt to the alterations necessary for working during a pandemic. In most cases, the biggest change was having employees work from home and use online platforms to conduct work-related activities. Unfortunately, even without in-person contact, workplace sexual harassment continues to be an issue.
A survey conducted by one company found that such harassment did not decline even though in person interactions did. The survey looked into employees who had received training relating to sexual harassment prevention from their current employers and found the following results:
- More than 29% of the survey participants indicated that they experienced unwanted sexual advances despite not working in person.
- The advances and harassment came through email, text message, video chat and other online communications.
- The results showed that a different approach to sexual harassment prevention training is necessary.
Because most companies will continue using virtual meetings and online chat systems, it is important to train employees on what harassment could look like on those platforms. Employers would also be wise to provide updated procedures on how individuals can report incidents, how they will be investigated, and possible outcomes. Clearing up potentially gray areas and ensuring that workers understand what constitutes harassment both in person and online could help prevent serious issues.
If workers have already experienced sexual harassment while working virtually, they may feel confused about what to do. One of the first steps may be to report the incident to the appropriate party, whether a manager or HR representative. If the issue does not seem to be handled properly, affected workers in the Washington, D.C. area may want to look into taking legal action.