Sexual Harassment Outside Work: What You Need To Know

Sexual harassment outside the workplace can take the form of a boss becoming too pleasant or making physical contact with an individual at an offshore work function. It can also be harassment that takes place on social media networks. While on business trips, employees may engage in inappropriate behavior.

Businesses are just as liable for sexual harassment outside of office hours as they would be for misconduct that occurs during work hours, whether the harassment includes coworkers, suppliers, consumers, or clients.

Where Can Sexual Harassment Occur?

What the law usually doesn’t entirely regulate is the location and timing of the harassment. In reality, courts in New York and other places have investigated the actions outside the traditional workplace to establish sexual harassment allegations against companies. Sexual mocking, comments, and statements, for example, were deemed sexual harassment by 62 percent of women and 53 percent of men in 1980.

It is possible to file a sexual harassment claim if the harassing behavior is linked to the job connection, even outside working hours.

Forms of Sexual Harassment Outside Work

The following are some situations of sexual harassment by peers that can occur beyond the office and work hours:

  • Making romantic and sexual phone calls, messages, emails, or notes.
  • Sharing personal or erotic messages or postings on social networking sites.
  • Unauthorized distribution of pornography, sexual images, or animation.

The following are some quid pro quo arrangement harassment: 

  • Using their status or influence to compel you to perform sexual favors;
  • Leaving or delivering sexual or romantic gifts that arena isn’t requested;
  • Unwanted physical contact;
  • Following, monitoring and stalking.

A Case  Study

A female worker accused a senior management executive of making sexual contact with her at a bar in the New Hampshire case of McGuinn-Rowe v. Foster’s Daily Democrat. The company claimed it was not responsible since the behavior took place” “outside the workplace and beyond the typical working hours. 

Yet, because they were colleagues, the Court continued to apply sexual harassment regulations outside situations. Because new media is so widely used, it’s essential to remember that it may be an easy way for assault to start.

Does the Harasser have to be in the Office?

Although the harasser is not on the schedule,” but on downtime, they could still be held responsible for sexual harassment. The harasser doesn’t need to be doing their work duties when the abuse occurs to be substantiated. Gender-based harassment is illegal as the workday ends and everybody is “off the clock,” as long as such an employment relationship does exist.

For instance, a manager and an employee may converse in the parking space post-working hours, even though both individuals are off duty and engaged in conversation by their desire. If the manager makes a vulgar or inappropriate suggestion towards the coworker during the conversation, it might still be considered workplace sexual harassment. 

The fact that the workday had finished is not a defense to a sexual harassment allegation. The employee can still contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission about such instances (EEOC).

Is the Accused Liable to Get Fired?

Suppose objectionable behavior happens during work-related or sponsored events, as in a Christmas party or a seminar. In that case, the Court is empowered to accept it as a component of a sexual harassment lawsuit.

Courts also mention that the events in employer-provided hotel accommodation, on weekend getaways at the request of a business leader, or even in bars are eligible for sexual harassment claims outside of work. Unannounced visitation to the employee’s residence and unwelcome calls and messages to the employee’s private phone outside of work are also considered by courts, especially where the contacts or conversations are dangerous.

These events frequently happen as part of a more significant trend of harassment, which may involve workplace misconduct. Although a single provocative comment during happy hour is uncommon to be violent or widespread enough to constitute a hostile workplace, the same statement would contribute to establishing a hostile work environment allegation as part of a harassment record.

Employee Harassment Outside Work can create a Hostile Workplace

Why is it still the employer’s duty if an employee sexually harasses another employee beyond the job role? Because when the staff is back in the building for their jobs, such behavior fosters a hostile work environment.

According to a recent survey reported by National Public Radio, 38% of women have encountered sexual harassment in the workplace, and 35% have experienced it at home. In addition, 81 percent of women said they had been sexually harassed at some point in their lives outside of work.

Businesses and their management staff are therefore liable for harassment outside the workplace during and after office hours. As a result, companies must incorporate this relevant information in their employee rules and instruction manuals.

A manager who makes unwanted physical contact with a colleague at an informal event could be the same individual with whom the employee will have to deal when returning to work. A coworker who sends sexually suggestive messages and photos over Facebook over the weekend is still someone with whom the person will have to deal with throughout the week.

Laws to Include in Company Policy Against Sexual Harassment

When it pertains to sexual harassment outside the workplace, various firms have varied policies addressing the situation. Even if harassment doesn’t quite happen on the office premises, the corporate policy will often consider that outside-work mistreatment can lead to unpleasantness in the office. For this purpose, businesses can take the following actions and precautions: 

Some business rules may assign an employee as a representation of the organization for a specific duration. As a result, disrespectful conduct or a lack thereof will negatively reflect the firm even if the employee is not on the clock nor the facilities.

It’s also critical to adopt a proactive and optimistic attitude. Most business initiatives to reduce or eradicate harassment have failed for several reasons. The visionary, constructive approach entails the following:

  • Companies should be emphasizing fostering a good work environment and culture rather than on a negative message that casts people as victims or perpetrators.
  • Companies should pay attention to what they want to see rather than what they don’t want to see.
  • Employee participation in establishing a healthy culture by training them how to be successful bystanders, training employees on the part they may play, and offering continuing effective communication.

For instance, if a company’s CEO is caught sexually assaulting an assistant he hosted at his house, the incident will still reflect negatively on the firm because the CEO is in upper executives and ultimately represents the business to the public.

Many corporate rules explicitly prohibit harassment, even if it occurs off-site. The abusive employee’s job might be terminated due to the event, or they could be reprimanded for off-site behavior toward a coworker.


Sexual harassment may happen nearly anywhere, whether it’s at work, at a corporate function, on work travel, or in the privacy of their family home. One must always be aware of their surroundings and identify such instances right away. The best way to deal with it is to confront it. If anyone is sexually harassed by a colleague or superior outside of work, they should tell their boss right away and seek legal assistance. 

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