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  • Harassment Isn't Confined to Physical Presence or Working Hours

    Sexual harassment looks much different today than in years past, when managers only had to worry about racy pinup calendars and in-person interactions at the office.

    But thanks to technology, employees are interacting with each other in ways not possible 15 to 20 years ago — they don't even need to be physically at work. Text messaging, emails accessible on a smartphone, and posting on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat (where posts almost instantly disappear) present numerous workplace challenges — including inappropriate conduct and images that could lead to a sexual harassment claim.

    And this before, during and after work-hours conduct may be causing problems in your workplace.

    How? Because maybe employees are sharing more private information and making comments online that they might never feel comfortable saying face-to-face. And a worker who goes home at night to find sexually suggestive posts from a co-worker on social media won't feel comfortable coming to work the next day. It's not about where the employee is, but rather who the employee is with — including virtual or digital environments.

    Even if the victim didn't tell the perpetrator to stop — because maybe the victim isn't comfortable approaching the harasser — the messages can still be unwelcome, unlawful harassment.

    It's also important to note that the equipment an employee uses to make harassing comments during or after work hours doesn't matter. Harassment that occurs on a personal or work-issued cell phone, laptop or tablet that happens during or outside of work hours is still harassment between co-workers and it's not to be tolerated.

    Treat after-hours harassment just as you would any other harassment complaint, train your employees to understand that online harassment of a co-worker after hours violates company policy, and continue to build a culture of respect in your workplace.

    Content courtesy of CalChamber.

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