That emoji in a text message could impact a harassment case

Text messages are often used as evidence in sexual harassment cases. A lot of harassment happens virtually these days, whether that means sending pictures or written messages.

But there's one other component to consider: The emoji. This small symbol, meant to quickly express an emotion, could play a huge role in a case.

We've already seen it happen. In one case, a woman sent a smiley face emoji to the person that she later accused of sexual harassment. She was claiming that the treatment created a hostile work environment. Since she'd sent that emoji, though, the court said that she wasn't being subjected to such an environment.

In short, this case helps to show that the court may feel like an emoji endorses a certain behavior, promotes that behavior or at least accurately shows how the person felt at the time. If the initial reaction is to smile, laugh or wink, that could undermine someone's case when they later claim they did not want the activity to occur. It could be argued that they were a happy participant and found nothing wrong with that treatment at the time.

Of course, this does not mean that any lighthearted response means there's no case. Maybe you felt compelled to send an emoji that did not reflect how you felt just to keep things from being awkward. Maybe you accidentally clicked on the wrong one and you never meant to send it at all.

There are a lot of ways that a case can play out, but these recent stories show that workers need to be aware of all the communications they send and receive. If you get involved in a complicated harassment case, you also need to know what legal options you have.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
  1. Suffering from discrimination in the workplace?

    Take Action Now
  2. Experiencing illegal employment retaliation?

    Get your job back
  3. Need help enforcing your contractual rights?

    We can help – learn how
  4. Are You A Victim of wrongful termination?

    You have rights
  5. 100 % Employment Law. 100 % For Employees. Put 20 years of experience to work for you.

Learn more about what to expect at our firm.

You can also schedule a face-to-face consultation with lawyer Stephanie Hahn by calling 800-375-1548.

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

Email Us For A Response

Office Location

Stephanie Jane Hahn, Attorney at Law PC
3815 River Crossing Parkway
Suite 100
Indianapolis, IN 46240

Toll Free: 800-375-1548
Fax: 317-816-7001
Indianapolis Law Office Map

Contact Info

Schedule Appointment

Conveniently located in River Crossing at Keystone at the top of the I-465 dial, we serve employees statewide.