Greensboro, N.C. -- You've heard of verbal harassment in the workplace before, but what about "textual harassment?"
Human Resources professionals and employment attorneys are tackling text message and social media harassment in the workplace more and more.
A recent government study found 23 percent of harassment victims were targeted through a text message, email or other form of technology. Harassment complaints are often tough to prove because it is usually a he said/she said situation.
Even our own WFMY News 2 employee handbook states, "There may be times when the truth is impossible to determine, even following a thorough investigation."
However, when you have a text message trail of comments, it changes everything. The same is true for social media sites and any other way people talk to each other in the workplace.
Human resources professionals are trying to figure out how to create policies to protect both employees and employers.
"It's at the very top - our communications strategies. How do we communicate and what is the liability that's putting companies and organizations in today? Stay tuned," Clay Smith, president of the Human Resource Management Association of Greensboro said.
While the legal system is still trying to figure out how to handle harassing text messages, fFacebook and Twitter posts, attorneys love it when their clients have proof of the harassment in writing.
Greensboro Attorney Karen McKeithen Schaede said, "It makes it a lot easier - especially in a harassment aspect because you do have good, concrete, written evidence. Usually, these text messages can be downloaded or emailed or you can print those out."
You can save your text messages on your phone for as long as you'd like. But, according to a PC Magazine article, Verizon is the only major carrier that stores the content of text messages. However, the company only hangs on to the message's contents for three to five days. Virgin Mobile saves texts for 90 days. Bottom line: If you get a harassing message from someone, don't delete it.
It can be tough to tell what social media is, or is not, allowed at work. Some offices don't have a social media policy at all. According to the National Labor Relations Board, many social media policies are illegal. It says the policies violate the National Labor Relations Act. The group states many are "overly broad" and the policies could interfere with workers rights to organize, unionize and bargain collectively.
Some of the policies the board says go too far include:
* Warnings to "think carefully about friending co-workers"
* Warnings against complaining online
* Policies that just say "avoid harming the image and integrity of the company."
WFMY News 2