Can Text Messages be Used as Evidence in an Employee Harassment Claim? 3 Ways to Help Protect Yourself

June 18, 2024

Can Text Messages be Used as Evidence in an Employee Harassment Claim? 3 Ways to Help Protect Yourself

Sending inappropriate text messages can be grounds for harassment

Text messages have undoubtedly changed the way we communicate.  

Text messages are an easy way to convey messages to others and usually receive a quick response. According to the Pew Research Center, 81 percent of Americans text regularly and 97 percent of Americans text weekly.  

We often share text messages with friends and family, but it’s not unusual to exchange numbers and text with your boss or other colleagues. While we assume our colleagues will only text us with work-related information, unfortunately, some will use it to harass us or others. 

Harassment in the workplace can happen in a number of ways, and it doesn’t have to be strictly in person. Employers can send inappropriate text messages to their employees or other colleagues. 

Some ways a boss or coworker can harass someone via text include:

  • Sending inappropriate jokes – it may seem innocent at first, and senders will often play off that it’s just that, “a joke”.  However, receiving text messages with explicit jokes is never suitable in an employer-employee or coworker relationship.
  • Unsolicited flirtatious behavior – a harasser may start by making comments about appearance, or send playful messages regarding ideas unrelated to work.
  • Persistent date requests – asking an employee on a date is already inappropriate, but a supervisor or colleague may not take no for an answer. Constant requests for a date, ranging from dinner to “drinks after work” are not acceptable by text.
  • Sending sexually explicit images – someone may send images with nude or salacious imagery, including photos of themselves, or other people.
  • Requesting sexually explicit images – a person may ask the victim to send them nude or salacious photos or videos.
  • Quid pro quo – a Latin phrase translating to “something for something”, victims may receive unwanted text messages offering career advancement in exchange for sexual favors or imagery. 

Man reads text messages

Harassing text messages can come in other forms as well:

  • Bullying – workplace bullying can follow a victim home.  It’s not rare for workplace bullies to send demeaning texts to colleagues, creating a never ending cycle of harassment. 
  • Threatening – one may receive texts from a supervisor intimidating them with threats of job loss or demotion.
  • Non-sexual, but inappropriate, jokes – making jokes regarding age, race, pregnancy, sexual identity, gender, or disability are examples of joking that should not be tolerated. 

It’s never OK to receive inappropriate text messages from coworkers. These messages should be taken very seriously. 

If you find yourself a victim of receiving harassing text messages, follow these steps:

  • Document everything – save text message threads, screenshot the texts, email them to yourself, print them, and have them saved any way imaginable. Your documentation is important.
  • Contact HR – your company’s HR department should be aware of what’s happening. You can usually find their contact information on the company website. Send them all of your evidence, and CC yourself on the email. 
  • Find a workplace harassment lawyer – having an attorney can help you sort evidence and make a claim against any company guilty of harassing you via text message. 

The statute of limitations for filing a sexual harassment claim is three years for incidents that occurred on or after January, 1st 2020.  However, it doesn’t mean you should remain silent if you were harassed before this date.

The Los Angeles workplace harassment lawyers at C&B Law Group understand how traumatizing receiving text messages like this can be. We know how hard it is to speak out after an incident as well.

Our team of LA harassment attorneys want to be your guiding light in helping you receive the justice you deserve.

It’s completely unacceptable for anyone to be harassed at work.  A hostile work-environment filled with harassment from your colleagues is toxic, and can interrupt your physical and mental health in a magnitude of ways.

If you are the victim of unwanted, harassing text messages from a coworker, contact the Los Angeles workplace harassment attorneys at C&B Law Group today for a free consultation.

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