Not all workplace sexual harassment happens in person. It can also happen online. In today’s world, people are more connected than ever, and you may be friends with bosses or coworkers on social media.
For instance, say you have a supervisor who is always very nice to you in person. They’re in charge, and they keep it professional at work. However, you’re also their friend on Facebook. That’s where things get strange. The conversation starts off innocently enough but quickly shifts into suspicious territory where they make rude comments of a sexual nature. When you turn down their advance, they get angry and insulting.
How could this happen? Some psychologists actually think that social media makes people ruder and more confrontational. They’re more likely to lash out. They’ll say things that they would never say in person.
Why is it? It may be the distance that social media creates. You don’t have to make eye contact with the other person and you don’t even have to think about them as a person at all. You turn them into an idea. Instead of being their coworker, you’re now this abstract idea of a person who has rejected them romantically, and they’ll verbally attack you for it. They may also have the guts to say offensive things — sexual comments about you, for instance — in this “private” space that they’d never say in the office.
Make no mistake, though: Just because it happens online doesn’t mean it’s not harassment. It still is, and you must be well aware of your legal options. When a workplace superior crosses the line outside of the office, you can still take action. Speak to an experienced advocate to learn more.