The National Law Journal reports today that text messages are becoming a growing liability concern for employers. Offensive and inappropriate texts are increasingly being used as evidence in sexual harassment cases. According to the article, the main culprit is male bosses sending scandalous messages to female subordinates asking them on dates or making promises in return for sexual favors. What used to be a "he said she said" case can now be proved with electronic evidence.
What is an employer to do? First, it is important to note that a bona fide sexual harassment reporting procedure is still the best defense against these kinds of claims. Once there is a report of harassment, it is important to conduct a thorough investigation, including obtaining copies of the offending texts in question. Text messaging also raises e-discovery concerns. Whether an employer has unfettered access to text messages may depend upon who owns or pays for the mobile phone where the texts were received or sent.
[Hat Tip: Workplace Prof Blog]