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“Sextual” harassment in the workplace

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

As Blackberrys and other devices proliferate, more people are using them to send explicit messages at work — deliberately avoiding the main frame. But that doesn’t make it any less of a crime, experts say.

“Explicit texting is becoming increasingly problematic in the workplace,” said John Fuller, an Equal Employment Opportunity officer and investigator for Johns Hopkins Hospital.


“Those who do send X-rated and explicit texts do not realize that what they send is the same thing as writing out on a piece of paper and giving it to someone or just saying it in person to the other,” Fuller added.

When you’re talking about a supervisor texting explicit thoughts and requests, the response should be obvious: Get to Human Resources immediately.

There are no gray areas here: Such behavior represents “quid pro quo sexual harassment, which normally also leads to sex discrimination if you do or do not accept the advances,” Fuller said.

He recommends collecting the evidence from the text, including the date and time and the entire message.

At that point, you go straight to HR and file a sexual harassment claim.

Remember: As in all things, do not take it personally. Such behavior will continue with others — perhaps to some who may be much weaker — if it isn’t stopped dead in its tracks.

As Fuller noted: “You cannot be retaliated against for filing a complaint either through the human resources (which I recommend first) or the EEOC.”

Once you file that complaint, he said, you are protected by state and federal law.

Fuller candidly said a majority of such cases “have resulted in either a settlement prior to going to court, a settlement in court, or a job benefit such as if a person lost their job, they got it back and the person who committed the act was fired or transferred to another location.”

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