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Is online sexual harassment illegal in the workplace?

In the not-so-distant past, workplace sexual harassment consisted mainly of improper touching, quid pro quo harassment and off-color remarks. With the advanced technologies of today, there is now an entirely new venue to sexually harass workers — the internet.

Online harassment can either be online posts made about a victim or material sent online to the victim.

An example of the first type of sexual harassment would be if someone was able to post actual or fake naked photos of the employee on a website and direct traffic to it in order to "slut-shame" them and cause them distress.

An example of the second could be an employee who finds it funny to send pornographic images to co-workers, or who views pornography on the job in view where others must see the imagery on the screen as well.

It's important to understand that you don't have to put up with being sexually harassed at work, in person or online. No matter what form it takes — obscene materials, lewd comments, sexual innuendos, improper touching — you have the right to be unmolested and free of sexual harassing behavior while you are attempting to carry out your job duties.

If you have experienced sexual harassment in your workplace, it is vital that you document these incidents. Start with reporting to Human Resources and your supervisor. If the harasser is your immediate supervisor, let him or her know that you do not want to be touched/talked to/shown obscene materials — whatever the issue may be, put them on notice.

If that doesn't stop the harasser in his or her tracks, further legal action may need to be taken.

Source: Findlaw, "Understanding Online Sexual Harassment," accessed Dec. 09, 2016

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