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New York plans to address work-from-home sexual harassment

On Behalf of | Aug 11, 2022 | Employment Law |

For employers and employees in New York and across the United States, sexual harassment in the workplace has become a prominent topic for discussion in recent years. People subjected to this type of misbehavior are increasingly willing to speak out about it. Employers are expected to implement strategies to either prevent it or to hold people who violate the law accountable.

Part of that is knowing how New York might update its sexual harassment guidelines to adapt to the changing workplace. As guidelines are updated, it is likely to include protecting people who work at home. Understanding how work-from-home employees are protected is imperative when considering a complaint and filing a claim.

Updates scheduled for 2022 might address remote work and harassment

New York is required to update its sexual harassment policies every four years. That means changes may be on the horizon for 2022 as it makes its new rules. Remote work is gaining traction in part because of recent health challenges and in part because more workers can do their jobs just as effectively at home or onsite. People can still be harassed, sexually and otherwise. For example, if inappropriate images or messages are sent, this is a form of harassment.

It goes beyond sexual harassment and can expand to mistreatment based on a person’s race, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, age, national origin and more. Statistically, more than 30% of the complaints made by New York workers to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 2021 were due to violations based on race. More than 35% were sex-based.

A 2019 change to the law opened a pathway for New York workers to complain about harassment even if it did not meet the threshold of being severe or pervasive. Employers may need to improve their due process regarding how claims are investigated and try to provide a fair process and environment for everyone involved.

Having experienced legal guidance can help employees and employers

Allegations of sexual harassment can have a negative impact on employers and employees. For employees, it can make the workplace feel unsafe and uncomfortable. They can be hindered from performing at their best and damage their prospects. This can happen whether they are working onsite or from home. An employer’s reputation can be harmed if they are accused of allowing harassment to take place.

When assessing a potential case, it is important to have legal protection. Discussing the situation with professionals experienced in employment law can be imperative to filing a claim, crafting a defense and putting policies in place to protect employees and employers alike.