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Sexual Harassment by Text Messaging

Cell phones mean never being disconnected — never being alone. They are a constant link to the world around us, including our family and our friends. They close distances and can bring individuals from thousands of miles away into our lives. November 12, 2009 /24-7PressRelease/ — Sexual Harassment by Text Messaging

Invasions of Personal Space and the End of Privacy

Cell phones mean never being disconnected — never being alone. They are a constant link to the world around us, including our family and our friends. They close distances and can bring individuals from thousands of miles away into our lives.

For many, that deconstruction of distance is the very problem. Instead of never being alone, they are never left alone. Links to the outside world become tethers, removing any hope of escape.

Welcome to the strange, new world of harassment by texting.

Imagine that you are an executive assistant at a large office in San Francisco, California.

Occasionally, during the workday, your boss makes semi-offensive side comments and inappropriate suggestions. It’s never in front of anyone and doesn’t seem to be escalating. And you don’t want to cause a stir in the office, so you don’t say anything about it.

But then the texting starts.

You begin receiving text messages at all hours of the night. Distance evaporates and your discomfort at the office becomes your discomfort at home.

Part of the problem is that texting is so easy. It’s a line of communication that is always there to be abused and it is quite simple to shoot off a message without applying much thought to it.

This ease of use also means a wide open door for sexual harassment and maybe even stalking. Once someone has your cell phone number, it is easy to invade your personal space by texting you whenever they want.

Sexual harassment via text is a new problem. Until recently, most states did not have provisions for instances of sexual harassment by way of messaging. Now, 46 states have amended laws and statutes to include mention of electronic means of contact, including computers and cell phones.

In California, a single text message — if it is obscene or threatening — can be considered harassment by texting. Laws vary by state, but the trend is toward more regulation and recognition of cell phones as a potential avenue for sexual harassment.

What are recommendations for employers worried about harassment by texting?

In short, treat it like any other form of sexual harassment. Whether a lewd joke in front of the office, or subtly suggestive texts at midnight — harassment is harassment.

The argument that cell phones are private and not subject to scrutiny holds less and less water as cell phones become more a part of our lives. In fact, the argument is flawed on its face. If cell phones are private, than any invasion of another’s privacy through texting would also be a violation of that personal space.

The best approach an employer can take is making workplace/colleague standards known and enforcing the idea that all employees are to be treated with respect — regardless of place, time and method of contact. And that starts from the top, down.

Article provided by Navarette Law Firm
Visit us at http://www.navarettelaw.com


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