When most people think of workplace sexual harassment, they think of unwelcome touching and flirting in the office. Although this certainly does happen, it is far from the only way sexual harassment can occur. Workplace sexual harassment can occur online and when it does, it can be as destructive as face-to-face harassment.
Ways Sexual Harassment Can Occur Outside the Office
Today’s workplaces often make use of online portals and messaging systems to facilitate communication and collaboration between employees. These systems also give harassers another avenue to bully their colleagues. Sexual harassment can occur in the following online platforms:
- Text messaging
- Messaging apps like WhatsApp
- Third party services like Teamwork and Basecamp
- Proprietary employee portals
When online platforms are used to sexually harass individuals in a workplace, it can be more difficult for the victim and the company to pinpoint the source of the harassment and determine an appropriate action to take than when it occurs in the office. There is also a difference between bullying that occurs on company-owned or leased software versus a private platform, like Facebook, that employees use solely outside the workplace.
What Victims Should Do When They Face Online Sexual Harassment
No matter where sexual harassment occurs, if it occurs between two members of a company, it should be brought to the employer’s attention. Individuals who face sexual harassment online should take screenshots of the crude, inflammatory, or otherwise inappropriate messages and images they receive from colleagues. This is because the harasser can quickly delete or edit the posts they make, while a screenshot preserves the image as it appeared at a specific date and time.
Individuals who face continuing harassment should collect copies of all the instances of harassment they face, including documentation of the date, time, and nature of any face-to-face harassment they receive. They should then bring this documentation to a supervisor and to the company’s Human Resources department to report the harassment.
Ideally, the company will address the harassment and make it stop, which might mean terminating the harasser, altering both parties’ work schedules or assignments to prevent future interactions between them, or by implementing new policies for technology use and reporting sexual harassment. If the harassment does not stop after the company tries to stop it or if the company fails to address the harassment, the victim may file a sexual harassment claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
South Jersey Sexual Harassment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Represent Victims Seeking Justice
As our world changes, companies’ sexual harassment policies must change with it. As a sexual harassment victim, you could be instrumental in having your company update its policies by speaking up about the sexual harassment you faced in the office and online. For support and legal representation as you seek justice and compensation for your damages, work with an experienced South Jersey sexual harassment lawyer from Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Fill out our online form or call us at 215-569-1999 today to set up your initial consultation with us. We are in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and we work with clients from the surrounding areas, including New Jersey.