Workplace sexual harassment may happen on your phone

When you think of workplace sexual harassment, your first thought may be of a worker making a crude comment about a co-worker or of a supervisor attempting to get sexual favors from someone who works under them. These are in-person interactions. They can and do happen.

That said, smartphones have changed things dramatically. The harassment you face may now be on your phone.

People are always connected, sometimes to their detriment

In some ways, it’s good that workers can always be connected by their phones. It makes communication fast and easy.

The downside, though, is that it can also make harassment just as fast and easy. This can lead to off-color jokes, crude comments, explicit pictures and much more. As soon as someone decides to send that type of message to a coworker, they can do it instantly.

Does this make harassment more likely? It’s hard to say, but it could lead to impulsive decisions. For instance, a man who had a drink with a female coworker on their lunch break may decide to send her an explicit picture on a whim when they get back to the office. If he hadn’t seen the woman until the following day, the impulse would have passed and he never would have done it. In that moment, though, it just takes a second to act.

The one good thing about this type of harassment is that it’s easier than ever to document and report. In many cases, even if the sender deletes a message, the person who received it still has it. Denial is much harder when that type of evidence exists. That’s not to say it won’t happen, but it means that solid digital proof exists, perhaps keeping it from becoming a he-said, she-said scenario.

What can you do if you face harassment?

No matter what type of harassment you face on the job, you do not deserve it. It is a violation of your rights as a worker. Make sure that you know what legal steps you can take to counter this behavior and protect your career at the same time.


super lawyers
New York County Lawyers Association
New York City Bar
NELA Advocates for Employee Rights National Employment Lawyers Association
lead counsel lc verified