While in many cases, “friending” your co-worker on social media is harmless, it can make it difficult to keep your personal and professional life separate. Not only may your privacy be compromised, but it could open doors for workplace sexual harassment — even when you aren’t physically at work. Here’s what you need to know to protect yourself.
What is Workplace Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment in the workplace can come in two forms: “Quid Pro Quo” and “Hostile Work Environment.” Here’s the definition of each:
Quid Pro Quo
Meaning, “this for that,” quid pro quo harassment occurs when a supervisor hints or blatantly asks for sexual favors in return for employee benefits such as trips, promotions and raises.
Hostile Work Environment
A hostile work environment does not necessarily have to come from your supervisor. The following behaviors from co-workers, clients or other business-related associates can create an uncomfortable work environment:
- Unwelcome sexual advances
- Jokes of a sexual nature
- Sexual gestures
Sexual harassment does not have to occur face to face. If you are receiving social media posts, text messages or emails that involve any of the above from your supervisor, colleague, or any other business-related associate, you may be a victim of online sexual harassment.
Friendliness vs. Harassment: What’s the Difference?
Co-workers may “like” your posts and make seemingly innocent, friendly comments about your looks, but there are other strong tell-tale signs that you may be subjected to sexual harassment online. Here are some red flags:
- Being sent explicit images via text, email, or on social media
- Comments about your looks or sexual behavior
- Private messages of a sexual nature
How Victims of Online Sexual Harassment Can Get Help
Whether you are being sexually harassed at work or outside of work, you have the right to be protected. It’s important to document all incidences of sexual harassment and report it to your supervisor or human resources department. If the issue does not get resolved, it may be necessary to take legal action for the behavior to stop.
If you’ve been a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, we understand how difficult it can be to speak out against your harasser. Contact Levin & Nalbandyan, LLP today at (213) 267-3640 to learn more about your rights and how we can help.