All employers have policies against sexual harassment. But many experts say those policies often aren’t kept up-to-date with new types of harassment.
The latest trend in harassment: sending sexually explicit text messages, also known as “sexting.”
In one recently filed case, a former Hooters waitress in Florida is claiming her manager frequently sent inappropriate messages and video to her cell phone.
Lawyers have also warned about employees using cell phones to view pornography in the workplace, which could create a hostile environment for others in the office.
Why are text messages dangerous for employers? Some experts say people are more casual with texting than with e-mailing.
While most managers and employees have realized that e-mail creates a permanent legal record, they often fail to realize that text messages do the same thing.
Some steps attorneys recommend employers take:
- Update policies — Companies may want to add provisions about cell phones, e-mail, etc., to their harassment policies.
- Train employees and managers — Someone may think sending a flirtatious text message is “cute,” and not realize it could be considered harassment. Add some text messaging scenarios to your harassment training.
- Respond to complaints — It can be even harder for managers to witness and stop this new type of harassment than other forms. But as long as companies respond to complaints quickly and effectively, they should able to stay out of court.