Should an employer fire an employee who sends non-consented photos of their sex?

In the UK, a female victim of cyber-harassment by people who don’t even hide their names has created a new program so companies can be made aware of their employees’ criminal behavior outside of work.

This Thursday, July 22, 2021, the initiative “Respect in Security” was launched by Lisa Forte and has already convinced two signatory companies. Lisa has been the victim of cyber-harassment in the past and has received threats on Twitter and Instagram and explicit non-consented photos on the LinkedIn network. Systematically, his stalkers use their real account where their name is visible to send him these inappropriate photos and messages. Crimes carried out with their face uncovered.

As it stands, one solution for Lisa is to report her stalkers to Facebook (which owns Instagram), Twitter, and LinkedIn. These platforms, which already have algorithms designed to censor any offensive content, also have real moderators who skim the reports. However, for Lisa Forte, interviewed by BBC, online reports are “a dead end.”

She adds : “It feels like the platforms are doing nothing, neither are the police. Lawyers are expensive and suing leaves an indelible mark on your reputation, even when you are the alleged victim.”

Alert employers rather than authorities

This is why, according to the cybersecurity specialist, the solution is to contact the employers of the so-called harassers directly. “We are not saying that every company is responsible for the behavior of its employees, but they will know how to act accordingly: sanction or support.” It is important to remember that in the eyes of the law, an employer has no responsibility for the actions of its employees outside of work.

According to Rik Ferguson, the co-founder of this program that companies can join, “There are already anti-harassment policies in all companies, but they only relate to what happens in the workplace.”

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Deterrence objective

By signing the charter of “Respect in Security”, companies undertake to respect 7 principles including:

  • Protect the identity of the person making the complaint (as much as possible)
  • Make the internal investigation public and discuss it with employees
  • Do not overlook any form of harassment.

“If you know your employer is committed to this initiative, you think twice before doing it [commettre des délits en ligne]” says Rik Ferguson.

This initiative is unfortunately unnecessary to prevent cyber-harassment from anonymous accounts.

Dan Hastings

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