On social media, anything you say or do can be used against you in the court of public opinion
I have previously blogged about sexual harassment in the workplace. This blog was written by Amanda Jaylene. I thought my readers would benefit from the discussion of sexual harassment and social media.
Most people today have some form of social media. Some use one or two popular platforms and some use them all. Whatever social media platforms you use, it’s a good idea to take a second look at them before starting a new job. When new employees hop on, it’s likely that your coworkers may take a quick search to see what you’re all about. This can open doors to the possibility of judgment that can be flattering or inappropriate. The last thing you want is to be undermined or disregarded because of what you’ve posted on social platforms before you even have a chance to prove yourself. So avoiding sexual discrimination online is not only important, but your job could depend on it.
Sexual discrimination is best described as "prejudice based on a person's sex or gender." Sex is based on scientific and biological definitions (male or female), whereas gender is based on societal norms assigned as either masculine or feminine. Making sexist comments on social media can lead to discomfort in the workplace, a poor work ethic, and personal destruction.
If a comment is made about your sex or gender, including your masculine qualities, feminine qualities, physical traits or references to genitalia, even instances of discrimination while pregnant, there is absolutely no question that you should refer it to your supervisor. Many employees question whether they're being unreasonable by not "loosening up" or "taking a joke," when in actuality the comments are insensitive and hurtful. If you're concerned that a comment is derogatory and are unsure of how to handle coworkers on social media, bring it up to a supervisor, coworker or someone outside of work to verify. In rare cases, the discrimination can come from upper management where there’s no one else up the ladder to bring these types of issues up to. So if it persists and becomes an ongoing matter, opting for a qualified employment law attorney that specializes in all forms of work discrimnation and rights may be the next step to take.
At a new job, you may not be prepared to tell your coworkers what does and doesn't make you comfortable. However, the sooner you draw the line, the less likely they are to cross it. Taking preventative steps on your social platforms, though, is likely the best action you can take in order to prevent an attempt for a coworker to overstep in the first place.
It may seem like a no-brainer, but implementing full privacy settings on your social feeds when starting a new job is ideal. In fact, take it a step further and before you even apply or interview, remove any questionable or promiscuous posts or photos that you think employers would raise an eyebrow to. In today’s tech-heavy world, you can learn a lot about a person with a simple search, so it’s no wonder that 37% of employers look up employees on social media. Be very cautious as to what you post moving forward and ensure that you’re hiding posts that you want to keep, but don’t want to share with random visitors or particular groups.
Here’s what to do if you feel you are being sexually harassed at work and/or on social media:
- Write it down. Take note of it as soon as it happens, and screenshot it if need be.
- Report to your employer. While some may feel like a tattletale, sexual discrimination is illegal and the likelihood of it occurring to just you is slim.
- File a discrimination complaint. Federal Labor Relations Authority has specific guidelines regarding discrimination in the workplace, so a governmental complaint is both called for and beneficial.
- Involve your union. If you are a member of a union, review their grievances policies and procedures after filing a governmental incident report.
Sexual harassment is all about power. The harasser wants to exercise his/her power over others by controlling what they may do or don’t do; say or don’t say. There is no place in our society for any form of harassment or bullying that is an extreme form of harassment.
Blog written by Amanda Jaylene. You can communicate with Amanda by Twitter: @AmandaJaylene.
Blog re-posted by Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, on September 25, 2014. Dr. Mintz is a professor in the Orfalea College of Business at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He also blogs at: www.workplaceethicsadvice.com.