The traditional sexual harasser appeared face-to-face, uncomfortably close to the victim’s work space, engaging in tacky jokes, suggestive references, or downright disgusting discourse. In today’s world of social media, online learning, virtual workrooms, and text-based communication, sexual harassment continues to thrive in a new and alarming way.
Behind the perceived safety of the smart phone or VPN connection, harassers have found comfort in the apparent anonymity of the digital “connection”, creating a dangerous situation for victims who may also feel protected from their harassers by distance and obscurity.
However, sexual harassers who choose digital media to target their victims are just as much a threat as the office weirdo, and we can help bring those offenders to justice.
Sexual Harassers Take an Innovative Approach
In recent headlines, a prominent Boston University professor was asked to resign amid allegations of online sexual harassment against his students. According to reports, the harassing conduct took place within the confines of an online classroom, including sexually suggestive demonstrations and reprehensible private message conversations with students. Moreover, the professor has refused to admit any wrongdoing and has adhered to the clichéd “misinterpretation” position held by so many preceding perpetrators.
This example may have occurred within the context of a collegiate learning environment, however, the concept of digital sexual harassment is not limited to online academia. In 2014, roughly 4 million American workers connected to the job site remotely, making virtual work a mainstream answer to the traditional 9-5 office space concept. With this dramatic shift in the workplace format comes the inevitable shift in sexual harassment opportunities, which can present in any number of ways, including:
- Inappropriate email jokes
- Suggestive private messaging
- Requests for or offers of an exchange of inappropriate self-images
- Lack of adherence to pre-established workplace conduct policies
Preparing Your Case
Digital sexual harassment may be an emerging issue, but it fortunately allows for a potentially easier process when it comes to gathering evidence and compiling a case. If you feel victimized by a possible sexual harasser, be sure to retain all evidence of the inappropriate behavior. We see no harm in a comprehensive evidence retention strategy, including printing hard copies of evidence, as well as storing digital images and conversations both locally and on a cloud storage device.
Time stamps are also an integral component to proving liability, as well as eliciting as much identifying information about the digital harasser as possible – which may require a bit of creativity when exchanging messages or obtaining images. As professionals who are experienced with this sort of misconduct, we can help guide you through the process of preparing your case and ultimately obtaining fair and adequate compensation for your workplace discomfort.
Sexual harassment can occur in a variety of forms, including face-to-face, over the phone, and over the Internet. If you are an employee or student facing uncomfortable, repeated, inappropriate comments, jokes, or messages from a co-worker or supervisor, please contact one of our skilled attorneys.