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The New Frontier for Sexual Harassment at Work: Sexting

The New Frontier for Sexual Harassment at Work:  Sexting

As a paralegal working for an attorney who handles employment law cases, I’ve done enough intakes and worked on enough sexual harassment cases to know there are never any winners when all is said and done. I’d like to think that with many employers enforcing zero-tolerance policies (even if it is with an eye to avoid liability exposure) and with public awareness at an all time high, that sexual harassment is on the decline, but it looks like sexual harassers have discovered a whole new frontier to explore, through the use of personal electronic devices, including cell phones and computers.

The Miami Herald is reporting in its article “Personal devices pose new sexual harassment issues at work” that “sexting”, the sending of sexually explicit text and email messages to co-workers, is on the rise.

Jay Zweig, a partner with Bryan Cave , told The Herald that:

Employees who receive an inappropriate message should report it to their supervisor or human resources department. But often, Zweig says, telling the person who sent the e-mail that you prefer not to receive those kind of messages, “usually ends it.”

“Employees need to stop and think. What they believe may be funny or a cute remark may not be well-received or misinterpreted by a co-worker,” he says.

If it is repeated behavior, it’s important to report it. “If the person is harassing you, the likelihood is the person is harassing others as well,” Zweig says.

The Herald article also emphasizes an important consideration for any employee who does not want to risk the loss of his or her job – even if the intent is not to harass but simply amuse co-workers. Sending those inappropriate electronic messages could result in the employee being disciplined or terminated, regardless of intent.

3 Responses to The New Frontier for Sexual Harassment at Work: Sexting

  1. This is a huge subject. It's going on Everywhere. It's so easy to accidentally Sex-text people, like flirting. Where is line drawn between consensual and nonconsensual? that's the most important question. Can 2 people agree to sex-text and is that a safe and legal agreement? does it need to be on writing?

    John DeFlumeri Jr Clearwater, Fla

  2. John, thanks for your comment. Since I've limited to topic to the workplace, I think it's wise for most employees to err on the conservative side in this matter. A good rule of thumb is not to text much(if at all) on the employer's clock and not to text anything to coworkers that isn't professional in nature. Since text messages leave a trail, it's probably not a recommended method for conducting even a consensual office romance – which can create its own set of problems if things end badly.

    You never know who is going to see your text messages, including other coworkers, your supervisors or people you've never considered. Once my daughter received a text message that was forwarded from another girl – a very personal romantic note – that the poor boy who texted it probably never dreamed would be forwarded to half the middle school girls in the county!

  3. We are very much familiar with the technology. As we know, devoid of technology development could not be achievable. But sometimes we do not even think of the ill effect of development. I think awareness is required to get rid of the usage of electronic devices. Without cell phones, laptops, computers and other essential devices it is impossible to sustain life.

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Contact Info:

Lynne J. DeVenny, N.C. State Bar Certified Paralegal

Owner & Virtual Paralegal, DeVenny Paralegal Services

Email: lynne.devenny[at]gmail.com

Telephone: 336-582-0003

Inquiries are welcome, with free quotes available.

Meet Lynne:

Lynne DeVenny is a North Carolina State Bar Certified Paralegal with over 27 years of experience working on complex litigation cases, including medical malpractice, personal injury, workers’ compensation, and Social Security disability.

Disclosure: I am not a lawyer and cannot provide legal representation or legal advice.

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