Do virtual workspaces stop sexual harassment?

If you have ever been a victim of sexual harassment at work, you are in good company. While Americans have been slow to recognize the pervasiveness of the problem, mainstream views are starting to change.

In fact, according to a survey from the University of Chicago, nearly 40% of workers now say sexual harassment is worse than they previously thought. While getting physically away from harassing coworkers may seem like an effective way to curtail sexual harassment, virtual workplaces do not stop it.

Sexual harassment may come in many forms

When you think about sexual harassment at work, you may envision off-color remarks around the water cooler. You also may think about unwanted physical contact. While these certainly are problematic, sexual harassment may come in many different forms.

For example, your colleagues may send inappropriate e-mail or text messages. They also may harass you over the phone or during a video conference. Moreover, even if you mostly work from home, you are likely to have in-person contact with coworkers periodically.

You can protect yourself

Depending on how it occurs, sexual harassment may be comparatively easier to document in virtual workspaces. If your harasser sends e-mails or text messages, you have a contemporaneous record of his or her bad actions. With other types of sexual harassment, though, documentation can be more difficult in virtual workplaces.

Your employer has an obligation to take your complaint seriously and not retaliate against you for making it. Ultimately, if your employer refuses to stop sexual harassment in your virtual workplace, you may have grounds to take legal action.