Can Inappropriate Text Messages Constitute Workplace Sexual Harassment?
The rise of cell phones and text messaging has completely revolutionized the way people communicate with each other. If you are like many employees in the United States, you probably text message, call, and email work associates on a regular basis. Unfortunately, the causal nature of text messages can sometimes cause people to make insensitive statements to their coworkers or employees. Increasingly, text messages are being used as evidence in sexual harassment claims. How do you know when a text message constitutes sexual harassment according to the law?
Text Messages Can Create a Hostile Work Environment
The two main types of sexual harassment are quid pro quo and hostile environment sexual harassment. If a boss or supervisor implies or outright says that he or she will give you workplace perks or continued employment if you submit to his or her sexual advances, you may be a victim of quid pro quo sexual harassment. Hostile work environment harassment, on the other hand, can be much more subtle. Often, this type of harassment starts out very subtly. Your colleague may begin by texting you questions or messages regarding work assignments but then slowly bring up more personal topics.
According to the law, hostile work environment sexual harassment occurs when offensive communication or conduct is “severe or pervasive” enough to interfere with the victim’s ability to do their job. A single inappropriate text message may not always be enough to warrant filing a sexual harassment claim, but this does not mean that you should simply ignore these types of messages.
What to Do If You Are Receiving Insulting or Sexual Text Messages From a Work Associate
If you have received text messages from someone you work with that make you feel uncomfortable, you should know that you do not have to tolerate it. Start by creating a sexual harassment log in which you document each occurrence of harassing messages or interactions. Follow the procedure outlined in your employee handbook for reporting the harassment to your supervisor or human resources representative. If action is not taken to stop the harassing messages, you may need to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and contact a sexual harassment lawyer. It is explicitly against the law for an employer to punish or fire an employee for reporting sexual harassment. If you are retaliated against by your employer after making a sexual harassment complaint, contact an attorney right away.
Contact a DuPage County Workplace Discrimination Attorney
If you have experienced sexual harassment at work or your employer is threatening retaliation, contact an experienced Wheaton sexual harassment lawyer at MKFM Law for help. Call us today at 630-665-7300 to schedule a confidential consultation.