Discrimination is an issue baked into the fabric of many workplaces across the country. Unfortunately, the many changes and reforms that the digitalization of the workplace brought on did not really address discrimination.
Instead, it has changed forms, manifesting in different and potentially unexpected ways in the modern virtual work environment.
The evolution of digital harassment
The New York Times examines harassment in the age of the digital workplace. First, harassment still ends up easily facilitated thanks to certain features inherent in digital platforms. For example, many messaging services come with the option to create private groups or chats. This allows for misinformation and gossip to spread essentially unchecked among employees. This may easily lead to some or many people discriminating against one or several individuals.
Additionally, sexual harassment continues to serve as an issue, too. Some may find this surprising due to the misconception that sexual harassment always involves physical contact. That is not true, though. In many cases, it involves the threat or coercion of a person for sexual favors, or even lewd or inappropriate remarks made toward them.
Digitally, these acts easily occur over voice chats, video calls or private messages. Harassers will often expose themselves on camera or send unwanted pictures. They may even try to coerce, blackmail or threaten the victim into giving them revealing photos or doing other sexual things in return.
Fortunately, it is easier than ever to document proof of harassment. Employees who believe they are the target of harassment should start keeping messages and taking screenshots of potential evidence as soon as possible, as it may come in handy in a court case.