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Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Coronavirus Update 11-18-2020: WFHH (work from home harassment)


For last night's dinner, I decided to use the leftover meatballs from the prior night's spaghetti dinner to make meatball subs. The only problem? No hoagie rolls, which led to the following conversation with my wife:
Me: I need to stop and get buns for dinner.

Her: Ooh, will you toast them?

Me: I'll toast your buns alright.

Her: That's sexual harassment!

Me: Take it up with HR.
All jokes aside, does a company's obligation to take corrective action when it becomes aware of sexual harassment in the workplace extend to an employee's home when that home is also the employee's workplace?

A harassment complaint is a harassment complaint, regardless of the alleged perpetrator. An employer cannot treat a complaint by an employee against a non-employee any differently than an intra-employee complaint. Indeed, in the words of the Ohio Administrative Code:
An employer may also be responsible for the acts of nonemployees (e.g., customers) with respect to sexual harassment of employees in the work place, where the employer (or its agents or supervisory employees) knows or should have known of the conduct and fails to take immediate and appropriate corrective action. In reviewing these cases the commission will consider the extent of the employer’s control and any other legal responsibility which the employer may have with respect to the conduct of such nonemployees.
There is no reason to think these protections don't extend to employees who are working from home  … although the ability of another's employer to control my conduct as a nonemployee in my own home is pretty much nonexistent.

Which begs the question: if my wife goes to HR to complain about me offering to toast her buns, what are the potential consequences? Let's hope I don't have to find out, but I'm guessing the risk is pretty low.

* Photo by Asiya Kiev on Unsplash