What Is Virtual Harassment?

Addressing the Same Problems in a Different Environment

As companies respond to the coronavirus pandemic and shift to the virtual workspace, office malpractices are slowly making the move as well. Learn how to ensure people may continue to feel safe in their own homes by recognizing and speaking out against any noticed virtual harassment in the online workplace.

What Constitutes Virtual Harassment?

Harassment is no longer limited to in-person verbal and physical encounters. With the increased accessibility to and prevalence of media, harassment often includes digital acts. Virtual sexual harassment occurs when:

  • A victim receives unwanted, lewd messages, photos, or media from an offender
  • An offender posts about the victim online

While posting about an individual online could be misleadingly broad, some specific examples of prohibited behavior include:

  • Commenting on or spreading rumors about a victim’s sexuality or sex life
  • Posting explicit photos without the victim’s consent
  • Posting about the victim and describing them using derogatory, sexual terms

These acts are not to be tolerated in any office setting, nor are they condoned after work hours.

How to Prevent Virtual Harassment and Promote a Safe Work Atmosphere

Whether you are an employee or manager, you can play an active role in promoting a safe and welcoming work environment. To prevent virtual harassment and the creation of a hostile work environment, you could:

  • Speak up if you witness any virtual harassment
  • Refresh employees’ memories on company policy regarding sexual harassment.
  • Offer additional training to reflect the changing work conditions.

If you are suffering from, or have been wrongly accused of, virtual harassment, John P. Mahoney, Esq., Attorneys at Law can help you. Contact us today for more information.

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