Ask the Expert: Employers need to stop job-related harassment via e-mail, texting
Q: How should we handle e-mail or texting harassment? A: Advances in technology have been both a blessing and a curse to employers. E-mail and cell phones allow people to stay connected whether they are in the office, at home or at the beach. But...
Q: How should we handle e-mail or texting harassment?
A: Advances in technology have been both a blessing and a curse
E-mail and cell phones allow people to stay connected whether they are in the office, at home or at the beach. But employers need to be aware of the growing concerns regarding improper use of these technologies at work and among co-workers. With the increased reliance on e-mail and cell phones (both business and personal) in the workplace, there is an upswing in harassment and discrimination via e-mail and texting.
Why is this important to employers? According to research from Walking to Halt Online Abuse, or WHOA, the oldest and largest all-volunteer online safety organization, more than one-third of initial harassment starts by e-mail or phone.
If the harassment occurs on company time or via company equipment, or if it is affecting an employee's ability to perform his or her job, the company should investigate the claim further. For example, if an employee uses company e-mail or a company cell phone to harass another employee or if an employee is using personal e-mail or a personal cell phone during work hours to harass another employee, these situations could lead to employer liability if not addressed.
Employers ignoring claims regarding e-mail or phone harassment could increase their chances of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission knocking on their door.
So what can employers do? Make sure that e-mail or cell phone harassment is treated just like any other form of harassment. E-mail or cell phone harassment should be incorporated in company harassment policies and integrated in any harassment training. Ensure that employees understand the consequences of those inappropriate behaviors. In addition, if a complaint is received by an employer, it should be investigated like any other complaint of harassment.
This material is provided as general information only and is not a substitute for legal advice. Contact the Northland Human Resources Association at email@example.com or go to www.northlandhra.org .