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Cyber harassment can create a hostile work environment

by | Mar 3, 2019 | Firm News |

It is not just someone telling lewd jokes or engaging in unwanted touching that creates a hostile work environment. You may not be able to check your email without encountering cyber harassment.

Is someone stalking you online? How can you put a stop to it?

How often it happens

According to data from Pew Research, 40 percent of internet users say they have experienced some form of online harassment. Men usually experience minor types of cyber harassment, such as name-calling and emails aimed at embarrassing the recipient, but they are also the targets of physical threats. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to experience sexual harassment.

The first case

The first case of cyber harassment went to court in 2004. The defendant received indictments on 26 counts of sending emails to harass his former girlfriend and her co-workers. The emails were sexually explicit.

The defendant hid his identity with a special email program, but the victim began collecting evidence of the emails and suspected the identity of the sender. She took the evidence to the authorities, who assembled a task force consisting of the FBI, U.S. Secret Service, IRS, and state and local law enforcement. The task force got their man: He pleaded guilty to two counts involving “Use of a Telecommunications Device with Intent to Annoy, Abuse, Threaten or Harass.” The device referenced was the internet.

The anonymous stalker

Pew researchers found that half of the internet users who experienced online harassment had no idea who was responsible. Most victims surmised that the perpetrator was either a friend or an acquaintance, which, of course, could be a co-worker. However, if someone is harassing you online and making your life at work miserable, take screenshots and keep written records of incidents to turn over to authorities. Explore your legal options. As the 2004 case proved, an anonymous cyberstalker does not have to remain anonymous forever.