Is Sexual Harassment from Coworkers Illegal Beyond the Workplace?

The protections people have from sexual harassment are more extensive than most realize: It’s illegal for a boss or coworker to sexually harass you, and you can take legal action to assert this legal protection.

No matter how, where, or when sexual harassment occurs in West Virginia, this unlawful behavior is a pervasive problem.

Sexual Harassment During Employer-Sponsored Events

It’s unlawful for anyone associated with your employer to sexually harass you during any work-related event or business trip. The holidays are coming up, so it’s worth highlighting that you are protected from sexual harassment during any holiday parties or gatherings sponsored by your employer.

Any conversation during these events should not include any discriminatory language about either sex. Employers are also responsible for intervening when employees report unwanted sexual advances, touching, and comments from anyone at an employer-sponsored function.

Sexual Harassment After Work Hours

It’s unlawful for anyone associated with your employer sexually harass you after work hours. Clocking out for the day doesn’t mean you become vulnerable to unwanted sexual behavior from the people with whom you work.

If you are sexually harassed by a coworker on your day off or during an informal happy hour with people from work, report it. Your employer is still responsible for protecting you from that coworker’s behavior.

Sexual Harassment from Coworkers on Social Media

Online sexual harassment has exploded in recent years, and most of it happens on social media.

You are protected from sexual harassment when coworkers make sexually inappropriate comments on your public social media posts. You are also protected when a coworker sends content of a similar nature in a private message.

Because evidence of sexual misconduct on social media can be erased, it’s a good idea to take a screenshot of each offending post or message to preserve evidence that it occurred.

What Should I Do If I’m Sexually Harassed by a Coworker?

If you experience sexual harassment from someone at work, report it to your employer. Your employer is obligated to investigate your report and take action to protect you from further abuse.

If your employer fails to do so or retaliates against you for reporting sexual harassment, immediately consult with an employment lawyer for legal guidance. You may be able to file a claim with the West Virginia Human Rights Commission, which can help you hold your employer accountable for damages.

If you wish to learn more about legal options that may be available in your unique situation, contact Rod Smith Law PLLC today to schedule a free consultation.