Sexual harassment is not limited to actions that occur face-to-face. Any material that is posted about an individual online or sent to an individual online could also constitute harassment. Materials that are downloaded or printed from a website and showed or sent to others can be a form of indirect online sexual harassment. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has also ruled that offensive email messages can be construed as harassment.
An effective way to put a stop to online harassment is to a computer's filtering or blocking technology. This will prevent an individual from seeing messages that are sent from an individual who may be engaging in harassing behavior. Employees have the option of reporting such activity to their employer, who would then have a legal obligation to put a stop to the harassment. To decrease the odds of harassment, it may be worthwhile to keep personal online profiles hidden from colleagues or clients.
Employers may also be able to put a system in place that monitors all communication on an employer network. This may make it easier to identify who may be sending messages or posting inappropriate materials on the network. Anti-spam programs may also add another layer of security and increase the odds that employees are only getting work related messages in their inboxes.
Workers who are subjected to a hostile work environment may have several options available to remedy the situation. If a talk with HR does not help, it may be time to turn to an employment law attorney. An attorney may be able to resolve the case through mediation or settle the case in court. Employees may receive compensation in the form of punitive damages or win reinstatement if he or she was fired for complaining about harassment.