Internet & Email Harassment at Work: Definitions & Examples

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  • 0:01 Hostile Work Environment
  • 0:25 Email & Hostile Work…
  • 0:56 Internet & Hostile…
  • 1:56 Quid Pro Quo Harassment
  • 2:23 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shawn Grimsley

Shawn has a masters of public administration, JD, and a BA in political science.

The Internet and email have improved our communication and work life in many ways, but they have also expanded the risk for workplace sexual harassment. In this lesson, find out how this happens. A short quiz follows.

Hostile Work Environment

Use of the Internet and emails can lead to sexual harassment by creating a hostile work environment. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a hostile work environment exists where conduct at work is 'severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.' Let's look at some examples of how Internet and email use may lead to a hostile work environment.

Email & Hostile Work Environment

Brandon is quite a joker at work. He likes to use the company email system to share jokes he finds on the Internet. Brandon has a taste for dirty and sexually charged jokes, sometimes with explicit videos and photography. Pretty much all of Brandon's co-workers view the jokes as offensive. Brandon's constant emailing of his offensive emails has created a hostile work environment.

Internet & Hostile Work Environment

Quincy works at a large customer service center. During his breaks, Quincy tends to stay in his cubicle surfing the web on his personal tablet. Unfortunately, Quincy has a habit of viewing pornographic websites on his break. Even though Quincy remains in his cubicle during his break, co-workers do frequently run into Quincy while he is viewing these sites, and most employees find his activities offensive in the workplace. Quincy has created a hostile work environment. This is the case even though his conduct was during a break and on his personal computer tablet.

Sometimes a company may create a hostile work environment through the Internet by not thinking through the consequences of its actions. For example, it's probably not a good idea to post pictures of the company's pool party of employees wearing swimsuits at a company pool party. Doing so may be considered creating a hostile work environment.

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