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Can workplace harassment happen online?

When people think about sexual harassment in the workplace they often think of the kind of harassment that is physical or verbal. They imagine inappropriate touching or offensive jokes made in the break room. While these are both examples of misconduct, you don't need to be physically present in a workplace to be a victim of workplace harassment.

Modern workplaces aren't confined to the four walls of an office and the hours between 9:00 and 5:00. People can work from home or across the country; they can communicate with coworkers at any time of the day online through social media or work-specific platforms. If this sounds like your environment, you should understand that sexual harassment can and does happen online.

For instance, if your boss is harassing you on a social media site by repeatedly making sexual advances, it could be grounds for a workplace harassment claim. This can be especially true if he or she states or alludes to the fact that going on a date or performing a sexual act will have a positive impact on your job.

If a co-worker emails you inappropriate messages or images, it could be grounds for a harassment claim. If colleagues are posting mean, hurtful and abusive comments on a personal blog you maintain, or if they are using and rating pictures of you that have been posted online, it could be considered harassment as well.

As this FindLaw article examines more closely, there are ways to track and record harassing behaviors online. In fact, it can be easier than documenting physical or verbal harassment. Victims can keep copies of emails, take screen shots, block other users and even install software to block inappropriate communications.

When it comes to building a successful sexual harassment case, however, it can be a challenge to navigate the legal system. Because of this, it is generally best to consult an attorney familiar with employment laws to understand your legal options and the steps you need to take to file your claim.

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