Just this weekend, I tried to call my 15-year-old nephew to congratulate him on his team's basketball win. No answer on his cell. I sent a text. Back came an immediate response.
So, it is no surprise to me that a soccer coach at Central Michigan University used text messages to recruit and maintain relationships with young female athletes. But it does surprise me that some of histext messages were sexual and inappropriate.
Indeed, it was the text messages that "did in" Coach Tony DiTucci. In a sexual harassment lawsuit, the students' attorney had obtained dozens of messages from the coach to the students, including several allegedly sent to one plaintiff when she was still a senior in high school. "He really used text messaging to lay the groundwork for initiating a physical relationship when she got to campus," said Jennifer Salvatore, the girls' attorney. The texts, Salvatore asserts, proved two things: that her clients were telling the truth and that the coach's conduct was "inappropriate." In April, she secured a $450,000 settlement from the university for the women. DiTucci also resigned.
Texting may seem harmless and hard to trace. It might seem an easy way to vent to a co-worker about the irritating co-worker in the next cubicle. But as the National Law Journal notes: "the messages leave behind an electronic record, and for lawyers, those records are increasingly being used to bolster a variety of claims, particularly in the workplace."
Here's what you should know: text messages can be retrieved even after deletion
The most prominent cases of textual harrassment, thus far, have involved male bosses who have sent scandalous texts to female employees, asking them out on dates or promising promotions in exchange for sexual favors. In litigation, texts have become even more potent than e-mail, employment lawyers say, as texters tend to be more casual with their language."I don't know what it is about texting," attorney Danielle Urban told the NLJ. "But it's really bringing out the worst in people."
In another "textual harassment" lawsuit one employee claimed co-workers createda hostile work environment by exchanging messages back and forth that he foundoffensive.
Bottom line, if you're thinking of texting someone you workwith or work for, think twice. It may make your life easier to text. Then again, it may make it more difficult.