Imagine going to work each day, wondering if you are going to receive an unwanted email from a customer. He emails you every day. He is one of your company’s biggest customers. At first, the emails only deal with business. Then, one day, he asks you out on a date. You email him back and tell him “no.” He continues to email you every day. Somehow, he even manages to obtain your personal email address and begins sending emails to that account as well. You immediately block his email from your personal account and soon his emails to your work address take on a threatening tone, pressuring you to go out with him. He begins making derogatory remarks about your looks and personality. Finally, this morning, he tells you that, if you do not go out with him, he will take his business elsewhere.
When he first asked you out, you immediately told your manager, who told you to let it go and not worry about it. When the emails continued, you followed up with your manager again. This time he told you to ignore the emails, and reminded you how important this customer is to the company. Now you are concerned that, if you go to your manager again or consult Human Resources, you might lose your job or “rock the boat”, causing everyone to hate you. You don't know what to do.
What you just experienced could be considered sexual harassment, and sexual harassment using emails or social networking site is a growing problem. When the harassment affects your ability to do your job, you need to put a stop to it.
Online sexual harassment in the workplace can take on many forms. It can include a supervisor, co-worker, or someone who is not an employee, such as a customer or vendor. The term “online” also has many meanings. The following are some of the ways online sexual harassment can take place:
According to the Pew Research Center, 40% of Internet users have experienced some form of online harassment, with 19% of users reporting they have experienced online sexual harassment. While online communication is rapidly changing, remember that your employer has a responsibility to protect you from most forms of workplace harassment, including online sexual harassment.
If you are a victim of online sexual harassment in the workplace, you can file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and/or the Washington State Human Rights Commission (WSHRC). Before you file a complaint, go through the following:
1. Talk to your employer. Try to find a resolution to your situation.
2. Then, if the situation is not resolved to your satisfaction, go through an internal complaint process with your employer.
3. If the internal complaint process is not resolved, file a complaint with the EEOC and/or WSHRC. Both have strict timelines and deadlines for filing a charge or complaint of discrimination.
Follow the steps below to file a complaint with the WSHRC.
Below are the steps to file a complaint with the EEOC.
If you would like to learn more about your rights or believe that you have been discriminated against please visit the Civil Rights Justice Center located at 2150 N. 107th Street in Seattle Washington or visit our website at civilrightsjusticecenter.com