Can Sexting Be Considered Sexual Harassment?
Since over 88% of the American population has confessed to sexting in their lifetime, it is safe to assume that the people you work with have done it too. People who work together often engage in romantic relationships despite how many companies rule against it. Sexting comes into play in most instances whether real sex ever happens or not. Sometimes messages are sent back and forth between coworkers that can be taken as sexual, even if they aren’t. The question comes up, can sexting be considered sexual harassment? We have the answer below.
New Age, New Ways
When we consider can sexting be considered sexual harassment, we first consider the new place technology has in our lives. New Smartphones, tablets and electronic gadgets are being developed every year and there are more applications for these devices made daily. These innovations are extremely effective in a workplace environment. Employees are more accessible than ever and they can stay in constant contact on projects and business meetings regardless of where they are. Text, picture and document sharing, coupled with video and live meeting software makes business happen anywhere at any time. It isn’t that far of a stretch to believe employees occasionally use all this technology for personal reasons among each other. While it is perfectly understandable, it also creates some risk for employers and employees.
Sexting as Sexual Harassment
Sexting is a human relations managers biggest nightmare. It can be done in mere second. It is done in secret and even if it is done outside of the work environment it can be considered workplace harassment. Any type of sexual content in a text message can be construed as sexting. In addition, nonsexual language can be construed as sexual if the surrounding conversation hints at it. Sexual harassment cases are hard for a company to defend against between coworkers but even harder between a supervisor and an employee.
Protection Against Sexting as Sexual Harassment
Every business in this day and age has a policy against texting. You can look in any company handbook and find a paragraph about what is and is not proper conversation between employees regardless of rank. When two coworkers mutually exchange sext messages it is hard to prove harassment unless some form of bullying was used. For instance, threatening the loss of a job or some other workplace related extortion. It is helpful to include clauses to specifically include sexting in any workplace rule book. The best thing for employees to do is jut refrain from dating or sexting each other. Especially superiors with their underlings. If one employee is underage, even if they consented and even if the initiated the messages, it is illegal.
When Sexting Is Not Considered Harassment
If two adults consent in sexting each other, it just isn’t harassment. Not even if one person is the other persons boss. If one person gets upset and attempts to exact revenge by accusing the other of sexting harassment, it will be hard to prove in court with a slew of their own dirty messages in the thread. Strangely enough, even the state laws on sexting are not entirely explicit. Many rely solely on how the participants feel about the incident. If sexually explicit messages are sent and it is looked at as a joke by both parties of the conversation, no sexting harassment took place. Even if you are offended, if no other reasonable person is offended or sees how someone would be offended by the remark, it is not considered harassment.
Sexual harassment by sexting is not as easy to prove nor as relevant as many people think it is. It is also extremely easy to prevent, making it a frivolous and time-wasting endeavor. Using a little self-control and personal restraint goes a long way in these instances. No matter how pretty or funny that coworker is, it’s best to refrain from any type of sexting. If this is too big of a temptation for you, consider for a moment all the issues that can arise. You can lose your job and livelihood, your relationship as well as face court trial, jail and fines. It just isn’t worth it. If you must set someone from work, quit your job.
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