The Sloan Law Firm PLLC

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How can you recognize harassment in a digital workplace?

by | Apr 25, 2022 | Employment Law

Digital work environments have grown more and more popular, especially in recent years. Along with this shift in workplaces, many of the problems of old and in-person work spaces have died out.

At the same time, new problems have cropped up and some old problems have even persisted in different forms. Harassment falls under this category, unfortunately.

The evolution of sexual harassment

The New York Times delves into harassment in the digital workplace. Harassment takes different forms. For example, ostracizing employees is a form of harassment facilitated by things like private chat channels. These channels allow certain groups of employees to band together, excluding others. They can then speak about the victims uninhibited, spreading rumors and tarnishing their reputation without them ever noticing.

Sexual harassment also still exists, though some find this surprising due to the assumption that sexual harassment always involves something physical. The most common forms of digital-based harassment include sending lewd or inappropriate private messages to a victim, sending unsolicited lewd photographs, or the exposure of genitals on video chat.

Of course, sexual coercion and manipulation can still occur virtually, too. For example, an employer might threaten an employee with demotion, or may bribe with promotions, in exchange for nude pictures or sexual acts performed over video chat.

Creation of hostile work environments

These actions can and do create hostile work environments and situations where employees feel victimized and helpless. Fortunately, digital formats allow for an easy way to document any potential sign of harassment, sexual or otherwise. This could come in handy in the event that the victim decides to pursue legal actions for the damages faced.