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Harassment beyond the workplace: Employee social media accounts

On Behalf of | Jan 2, 2024 | Employment Law for Employees |

While it is healthy to keep boundaries between one’s work and personal relations, there is nothing wrong with creating an online connection with our coworkers. Many employees do not mind connecting with their colleagues through their personal social media accounts, even outside of working hours.

Unfortunately, some people take advantage of their access to their coworkers social media accounts and extend harassment beyond the workplace. This includes sending threatening messages or leaving insulting comments on their personal pages.

When this happens, it is essential to know when these demeaning behaviors count as workplace harassment.

Finding sufficient connection to the workplace

Whether an online act can be investigated as workplace harassment depends on whether it has a sufficient connection to the workplace. Some indicators include the mention of a coworker’s name in an obviously targeting post and how many colleagues has access to see the humiliating or insulting post. Some harassing online acts could be as direct as a threatening message of a coworker towards the victim.

The impact on the victim

In harassment cases, it is crucial to prove how the offensive and humiliating conduct of the aggravator has affected the victim’s work environment and performance. If it shows that the online behavior in question creates a hostile and unsafe working environment for the victim, then it qualifies as workplace harassment and can be reported and investigated as such.

The role of employers and the rights of employees

Employers have the responsibility to maintain a safe working environment for their employees. This includes applying measures to prevent harassment and conducting thorough and fair investigations for reports of it.

Employees have the right to report harassing conduct to their human resources department. If this course of action fails, they can explore options to file legal action with their state employment or human rights department or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.