Sexual Harassment During Business Travel: It’s a Problem

The possibility of sexual harassment at work does not end when you leave the office. Sexual assault and harassment can take place at a remote job site, on a work trip or during business travel. A harasser might take advantage of the new environment to make an unwelcome sexual advance. If you experience sexual harassment or assault during business travel, report it immediately. Then, consult with a Los Angeles sexual harassment attorney about your legal rights and options.

How Often Does Sexual Harassment Happen During Business Travel?

Business trips can lead to opportunities for sexual harassment. Many business trips involve activities that staff members would not engage in together in a typical nine-to-five office setting, such as traveling in close quarters, having dinners together, staying at a hotel and having drinks at a hotel bar. The new atmosphere of a business trip can increase the risk of sexual harassment and assault. Assailants may be under the mistaken impression that the sexual harassment rules and policies of the office do not apply outside of the workplace.

According to a 2018 study by the Global Business Travel Association, about 83 percent of female workers experienced safety-related concerns or incidents while on business trips. More than 8 in 10 women reported these incidents in the year prior to the survey. The women surveyed expressed that high levels of concern for their safety on business trips impacted their activities while on these trips, including where they traveled, the frequency of traveling for business and their productivity while on the trips.

It is important to note that sexual harassment during business travel can affect both men and women. That being said, 71 percent of female business travelers believed that they were at a greater risk of sexual harassment and assault than their male counterparts. Their greatest concerns were general safety (78 percent), sexual harassment and assault (72 percent), and assault or kidnapping (65 percent).

Common Examples of Sexual Harassment on Business Trips

Sexual harassment on a business trip can take many forms. It may be explicit or implied, as well as quid pro quo or hostile work environment sexual harassment. Sexual harassment at a job site or during business travel can refer to physical advances, as well as verbal or visual harassment. Common examples include:

  • Invasions of personal space while traveling
  • Inappropriate emails or text messages
  • Sexual touching or groping
  • Inappropriate massaging or hugging
  • Kissing or attempting to kiss a victim
  • Rape or attempted rape, as well as drug-assisted rape
  • Quid pro quo (“this for that”) sexual harassment
  • Requests for sexual favors
  • Unwelcome visits to a coworker’s hotel room
  • Discrimination or harassment based on sex

Sexual harassment during business travel can not only ruin a business trip but also create a hostile work environment when the employees return to the office. It is important to treat sexual assault or harassment that takes place outside of the office the same way you would an incident at the office; report it immediately to your employer.

How to Report Sexual Harassment on Business Trips

As difficult as it often is to talk about sexual harassment, do not stay silent. You have legal rights under federal and state laws in California. Protect them by coming forward with your story as soon as possible. Go to the Human Resources Department at your job to file a complaint. If your employer fails to take prompt and appropriate action to resolve the issue, file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Next, consult with an attorney about the possibility of filing a legal claim against the perpetrator and/or your employer for sexual harassment. Filing a lawsuit may be the best way to hold someone accountable and recover financial compensation. A lawyer can explain your rights and protect your best interests. To discuss a potential business travel sexual harassment case with an attorney, contact Mathew & George today.