Marion, OR- Computers, cell phones and smart phones have revolutionized the workplace. These technologies, especially smart phone, simplify our personal and working lives by making it possible to stay connected with family, friends and coworker no matter where we are. While these devices make it easier to stay connected and conduct business, they are also increasingly used to sexually harass coworkers.

These days many sexual harassment cases involve some form of harassment through emails or text messages and sometimes the harassment can spill over into social media. Sharing intimate texts, emails or photographs is acceptable as long as both parties welcome them. But, too often, these explicit correspondences are unwelcome by one or more parties, and can be the grounds for a sexual harassment complaint if they are coming from a boss or coworker.

For someone with the right skills, a photograph, text or email can be shared almost immediately.  Some people cannot resist the temptation to send that coworker they think is attractive—or one they dislike– a sexually explicit photograph, email or text message. Smart phones make this too easy, and, although this may be a singular event; there are many times in which a coworker uses technology to repeatedly bully or harass a coworker. This barrage of sexually explicit emails and text can cause extreme anxiety, distress and embarrassment for the recipient.

Sexual harassment does not have to be in person to be considered illegal and cause a great deal of emotional distress from the target. Harassment or bullying through emails and texts is just as toxic to the workplace and the victim as in-person harassment. Even when harassment occurs through technology, an employer is just as liable for the behavior as they would be if it occurred in the workplace.

Employers have to take responsibility for any sexual harassment that occurs in the course of work. When they are made aware of sexual harassment through technology; they must acknowledge the complaint, investigate and punish the harasser appropriately. Should an employer fail to take the appropriate actions they can be held accountable for their lack of inaction, and could face a sexual harassment lawsuit.

Any person, male or female, who is subjected to sexual harassment, whether it is through texts, emails, or in person, should report the behavior.  Many people are reluctant to file formal sexual harassment complaints because they fear they will be fired, denied promotions or raises and be harassed by their coworkers. This is referred to as retaliation, and though some employers do in fact punish the complainant, it is illegal under state and federal laws. In many sexual harassment cases, it is much easier to prove retaliation than it is sexual harassment.

If you are being sexually harassed and are unclear how to stop it, you can contact a sexual harassment attorney who will guide through the steps you need to take. When you have legal counsel, you are more likely to end the misconduct and receive compensation for your emotional distress.