Many forms of harassment can occur in the workplace. From religion to sexual harassment, some of your employees may feel discriminated against by some of their co-workers. It can be easy to think that once everyone goes home, you no longer have to worry about people feeling uncomfortable. However, the advent of the Internet has made it possible for people to harass others any time they want. The anonymity of the Internet may even give people the sense of power they need to harass co-workers when they would not have been able to in person. Here are some things you should know about online sexual harassment and what you can do to stop it.
Ways People Can Be Harassed Online
There are essentially two forms of sexual harassment people can experience online. An employee can receive harassing material from the perpetrator directly, or the employee may see the material posted on a public platform. Sexual harassment online can refer to an individual verbally harassing an employee either by referring to intimate subjects or making references to an individual’s sex life. It can also involve sending graphic material, such as pornographic films or lewd images.
Online Sexual Harassment at Work
It is possible for certain employees to use their work computers to view or send sexual material. Computers at work should be used for business purposes only, and they should never be used by your employees to view pornographic materials. As an employer, you can install software to prevent people from accessing certain sites. Computer programs can also be installed to prevent emails containing certain keywords from entering your employees’ email accounts. This can prevent them from seeing spam that could contain certain images or content.
Key Facts About Sexual Harassment on the Internet
Nearly 40 percent of people who use the internet report experiencing some form of harassment at one point or another. This can range from mild forms of harassment such as name calling to far more severe forms such as stalking or physical threats. Young adults between the ages of 18 and 29 are the most likely age group to experience online harassment. Although men and women can experience harassment, women, particularly younger women, are more likely to receive more severe forms of it. Social media is the most common platform, but it can also happen within the comments section of a website and through personal email.
How to Deal With Online Sexual Harassment in Your Workplace
It’s easy to assume that since a certain form of harassment did not occur on your property that it is not your responsibility. However, if your business employs more than 15 individuals, then you are bound by law to have a sexual harassment policy in place. Anyone who works at your business should be given a copy of this policy and understand that if he or she is experiencing harassment, then it needs to be reported right away. You need to take every accusation seriously and respond swiftly. Otherwise, you and your company could be held liable. If the online harassment occurred between two of your employees, then you should seek out the perpetrator for disciplinary action. The person who was harassed can most likely provide you with online transcripts to prove without a doubt what happened, so the appropriate course of action can be pursued. Even if one of your employees was harassed by someone who does not work directly for you, you should still take action. Consider legal counsel, and always offer your full cooperation.
Online harassers may have a computer screen to hide behind, but that does not mean they should get away with making anyone uncomfortable. Have a strict sexual harassment policy in place to prevent this kind of thing from happening at your business.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.