Does that text from your boss mean what you think it does?

| Mar 8, 2018 | sexual harassment

Images leave a lot up to the imagination when attempting to understand their meaning. Just as art is subjective, so are emojis. Getting a text from your boss with a rocket followed by a flower and ending with a winky face might seem harmless but the meaning behind it could be more deviant. Sometimes it is obvious; sometimes it is not.

Fruit and veggies are not just for eating

Emojis are like a hieroglyphic form of slang and mean different things to different people. Agreeing to one particular interpretation of a specific emoji is not easy. Keeping up with the latest trends in the world of emojis can feel like going around in circles. The language of emojis is continually evolving but in some cases, it takes little effort to decipher the message. More and more frequently pieces of produce are being linked to signify areas of the human body. For example, it takes no stretch of the imagination when you see the eggplant emoji to compare it to the male body part that it most closely resembles.

When emojis cross the line

While these pictographs alone don’t constitute sexual harassment, it is the frequent and or inappropriate use that can escalate the situation. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, harassment becomes illegal when it creates a hostile or offensive work environment. Since 71 percent of North Americans use visual expressions when texting or on social media sites, this leaves plenty of room for unwelcome advances. The offensive use of emojis does not solely affect the workplace; these little images can appear just about anywhere.

Next time your boss sends you a cryptic text filled with emojis hopefully the meaning is not one you have to decipher. A valuable rule of thumb to follow is if the message makes you uncomfortable then it is not ok. No circumstance warrants you feeling harassed in the place where you make your living. 

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