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Discrimination – Even Over Zoom

While working remotely now appears to be here to stay, misconduct in the wake of Zoom meetings is becoming more commonplace. More subtle forms of harassment and discrimination are creeping into virtual workplaces. Some employees approach these types of meeting with a more casual attitude and in the comfort of their own home might feel emboldened to say or act in a way that can cross the line.

While most of the troubling conduct is not as blatant as when legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin reportedly began masturbating during a Zoom call with colleagues thinking he was off-camera — an episode that recently got him fired from The New Yorker —workers are facing discrimination, bullying, and harassment in online gathering spaces, just as they did in the office.

Employees are increasingly reporting being mocked and ridiculed over Zoom for their appearance or other physical characteristics. Critiques about an older worker’s ability to use the technology or how they use it (forgetting to unmute when speaking or starting their video) can be reflective or ageism. A 60-year old worker who is referred to a “dinosaur” for struggling with Zoom is going to be deeply impacted by the belief that he/she is somehow not good enough because of his/her age. Saying it is a joke, is simply not going to cut it.

Virtual meetings also allow participants to learn more about their co-worker's personal lives. For example, on a Zoom meeting, you may see religious or political artifacts on someone’s shelf in the background. You may see paraphernalia such as pill bottles or an insulin pen that suggests a medical issue or disability. You may also learn about a fellow coworker's childcare responsibilities. When in the hands of the wrong type of individual, an employee in any or many of these protected categories can become the subject of discrimination, even over Zoom.

If you believe that you have been discriminated against, even though you are not working in the office, you may have a valid claim.

Contact our firm today!

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