Virtual Harassment

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November 5, 2010

In May, I posted a blog about how social media has taken Indianapolis staffing companies, executive headhunters and most anyone in Central Indiana jobs by storm. Sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, You Tube and Twitter offer employers, employees and job seekers opportunities to network, advertise and promote themselves and has become one of the biggest hiring trends to advertise Central Indiana jobs and Indianapolis job openings. It has also opened up the door to many employment law issues.

Social media has transitioned the job of many HR professionals and those in management positions in Indianapolis to creating updated policies and addressing sexual harassment claims stemming from the misuse of social media.

Many of us in HR jobs in Indianapolis have created policies prohibiting sexual and other harassment. Before the age of technology, harassment was much easier to identify and would consist of gestures such as a lingering hug, sexually suggestive comments or a loud obscene joke in the workplace.

Times have changed and so has the outlet for harassment. In today’s culture of constant and instant communication, the opportunity for potentially harassing actions is there 24/7 at the click of a button. Even though many actions may take place outside of normal business hours, that doesn’t mean the employer is not responsible for addressing these situations. This puts employers AND employees at risk.

Companies who have not outlined a clear policy are escalating their risk and employees who may think forwarding a joke by email or text or posting something on Facebook is innocent, may find themselves facing disciplinary action or termination. Some employees may think their jokes or actions are harmless but in reality their behavior could be considered harassing. This does not just apply to those in management positions in Indianapolis but to any employee at any level from those in six figure jobs government or administrative jobs.

Companies need to have a clear policy as to what constitutes sexual harassment and must enforce and follow this policy consistently. Even though the methods for potential sexual harassment have changed, those in HR jobs in Indianapolis should still handle these situations the same. The EEOC website provides helpful information.

Employees should think before posting a blog, a message on Facebook, sending a text message or email to a co-worker.  Always treat these  messages as if they were public. Taking measures to avoid communication that could be interpreted as harassment could save your career and reputation.