As the weather gets warmer and summer approaches, many companies start to have summer company picnics and host other activities outside of work. These can be a nice way to get employees to interact outside of the office and create stronger team bonds.
However, just because an event occurs outside of work does not mean employees and employers can start behaving inappropriately.
Is it still harassment if you’re not at work?
People may want to get to know their coworkers out of the context of their desk, but workplace boundaries should still be in place. People might think they get a pass to behave differently outside the office, but this is not true.
It doesn’t matter if you are getting a drink after hours or having a work picnic in the park on a Saturday afternoon. Harassment is harassment. If you are being harassed by a coworker or even your boss at any time or place, your employer still has a responsibility to investigate and handle the incident.
What qualifies as harassment?
Sometimes people think the boundaries of harassment are different outside of work, but they are not. A wide range of unwanted behavior qualifies as sexual harassment, no matter where it occurs.
Suggestive remarks, gestures, uncomfortable and inappropriate physical touch and offensive jokes are all still considered harassment. If a coworker asks you out on a date repeatedly or makes a sexual request at a bar or work party, this is still harassment.
As summer gets closer and people interact outside of work, do not forget your rights and protections as an employee. You do not have to stand for inappropriate behavior from your coworkers and even your managers or bosses, at work or outside the office. If you think you have been harassed at work, there is action you can take.