HR Compliance: Dealing With “Textual Harassment”

by | Oct 14, 2009 | Blog, HR Compliance

  • Amy Letke

    Amy Newbanks Letke, SPHR, GPHR, is the Founder of Integrity HR, Inc. Amy provides workplace solutions to improve performance, reduce liability and increase profits. She is passionate about helping other entrepreneurs and business owners achieve success. Contact us for more insights - 502-753-0970 or

What’s the newest buzzword Human Resources and other business professionals need to be aware of? Textual harassment.

Textual harassment is defined as harassing someone through texting, whether it is sexual, threatening or just undesired and relentless in nature. As the popularity and ease of constant and immediate communication has exploded, employers are finding themselves faced with a new source of liability.

Of great concern is that some employees fail to recognize that just because inappropriate pictures or messages aren’t spoken or shown in person, they can still be considered harassing.

What can you do to protect your workplace? Our human resources consultants recommend the following guidelines:

  1. Be verbalTrain your managers and supervisors about this new form of harassment and the correct actions to take if they see or hear of inappropriate occurrences.
  2. Retain the evidence. Photograph or otherwise document the harassing messages or images as part of your investigation. If the alleged harasser has a company owned electronic device, request an immediate return of the device, as it might become evidence in your investigation.
  3. Update and follow your company policy. Make sure your policy addresses (and is titled) “Sexual and Other Unlawful Harassment.” Clearly state that inappropriate images or messages via cellular telephones or other electronic devices are strictly prohibited and could constitute harassment. Include consequences for harassing behavior.
  4. Take legal action if appropriate. Recognize the company’s (and your personal) potential responsibility to report harassment to the authorities immediately – especially if the messages are violent or threatening.

Submitted by: Dawn Karrer, PHR; Human Resources Consultant with IntegrityHR, Inc.

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