Beginning Jan. 1 of this year, both California penal code and civil law lists cyberstalking as a chargeable crime. Individuals convicted of cyberstalking can be sentenced with up to a year in prison and a fine of $1,000. The law, which isn’t necessarily targeted to workplace harassment, could have implications for those who are experiencing such issues.
A Pew Research Center survey in 2014 indicated that 40 percent of adults online have experienced some form of harassment. As many as 73 percent reported seeing harassment occur online to someone else, which means this is a prevalent problem across all types of environments online.
For some adults, the Internet can be an extension of the workplace. Messaging apps, social media and even personal email or websites offer someone a chance to harass, stalk or communicate with someone outside of the workplace. In some cases, a person who has limited his or her actions in the workplace out of fear of reprisal might take bolder actions to harass someone online.
But what do you do if you are a victim of such harassment? If it occurs on your own personal social media pages or messaging systems and outside of work hours, is it workplace harassment? The lines are honestly a bit gray in this area, which is why it’s probably a good idea to get a legal professional involved if your employer doesn’t take action to protect you.
One good thing about this new California law is that it provides some possible protection outside of the employer. Now victims of this type of harassment can go to law enforcement if they are not getting results at work.
Source: San Gabriel Valley Tribune, “Tougher California laws protect victims of digital harassment,” Kevin Smith, Feb. 09, 2016