Most employers train their employees on sexual harassment and most
employees have been educated on what constitutes bad or illegal behavior
in the workplace. But, with the explosion of social networking there is
a new area that needs to be included in harassment training. Facebook
alone has 500 million members and it is likely that co-workers are
friends on these sites. The potential for damaging harassment claims
from employee’s actions on these sites has become greater than ever.
an employee uses a social networking site they may feel that they are
in a private, social world apart from work, however if they are friends
of others at work, what they write and say on their account is broadcast
among co-workers. As an example one employee may make a comment of a
sexual nature about a co-worker on another co-workers page. Depending on
the privacy measures that this co-worker has on his/her site, this
comment could be broadcast amongst hundreds of people. The potential
that the co-worker who had comments made about them would see this
broadcast are extremely high. Not to mention the potential for other
co-workers being offended by the comment. Unlike a comment made verbally
which could be overheard by just a few people, a comment made on a
social networking site can be seen by hundreds if not thousands of
people. Imagine the potential for harassment claims.
potential for cyber-stalking and unwanted sexual advances on social
networking sites is also high. Employees may see these sites as a world
outside of work, however if these advances are unwanted and they are
between co-workers, harassment claims could arise.
The courts will
undoubtedly begin to hear numerous harassment claims arising out of
social networking. How they determine illegal behavior has yet to be
determined, but to be sure the potential for a catastrophic lawsuit is
immense. Protect your company with proper training on online harassment
and make sure they are aware of what constitutes appropriate behavior.