Sexual Harassment in the Digital Age

Course Description:

It’s difficult to imagine how different our lives would be today without digital and online communication. Take social media as an example. This incredibly valuable tool, which hardly existed 20 years ago, has since helped countless people reconnect old and foster new relationships, both inside and outside the workplace. Yet, one of social media’s great benefits—the ability to share and connect with others, often a broad audience, without being in the same room—also creates new challenges if people feel empowered to express themselves and speak more freely than they do in face-to-face communication. Sometimes, boundaries and appropriate conduct become less clear when communication occurs via social media and other digital and electronic platforms. That’s why today’s training session, which will cover best practices for preventing sexual harassment via social media and other means of digital communication, is so important. During this training session, we will start by talking about sexual harassment in general. Then, we will discuss harassment specific to online communication. We’ll cover rules related to behavior in and out of the workplace, provide examples of inappropriate communication, and discuss what to do if you feel you or a colleague has been harassed.

Course Duration: 30 minutes

Why “Sexual Harassment in the Digital Age” Matters:

Employers have long been acquainted with the dangers of sexual harassment, with associated problems ranging from morale issues to monetary liability. The digital age has brought ever-expanding possibilities for workplace harassment, making “Sexual Harassment in the Digital Age” essential employee training because:
Title VII prohibits sexual harassment, including online or other electronic harassment.
It doesn’t matter when or where the harassment happens—the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has pursued charges against employers over sexual harassment committed on employee’s personal devices, personal accounts, and personal time.
While state laws do afford employees some online privacy rights, those rights are limited, and employees should understand that illegal behavior is never protected.
To help mitigate employer liability, employees must be trained on how to report harassment.

Key Points:

  • Harassment can take place both in and out of the workplace;
  • Harassment can occur even if you’re on your own personal electronic device;
  • Social media sites can be another setting for harassment;
  • While state laws may protect your privacy in some online and off-duty contexts, these laws don’t protect illegal and harassing behavior;
  • Electronic communications can often be retrieved, even long after you think you’ve deleted them; and
  • Employees should treat each other with the same dignity and respect online as they do in person.

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