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n Journal for Juridical Science - Virtual bullying in employment

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Abstract

The world of work has certainly benefitted much from the revolution in information communications technology and the wave of digitisation of the 21st century - e-mail, websites and virtual marketing platforms have truly removed many boundaries. However, these boundaries have also been removed for those in the workplace with less noble intentions: bullies. Virtual bullying, or cyberbullying, in the workplace has become a major concern worldwide. Some even regard virtual bullying as being more sinister than its face-to-face equivalent, as personal attacks launched on virtual platforms are often more intense, frequent, unexpected and difficult to stop, and can have far-reaching consequences not only for the employee on the receiving end, but also for the often unsuspecting employer, who may be held vicariously liable. Cyberbullying in the workplace may take various forms, including identifiable or pseudonymous e-mails and SMSs; communications that feature offensive content; negative characterisation on workplace or personal blogs, and the like. This article provides an overview of the differences between face-to-face bullying and virtual bullying; discusses the essential elements and prevalence of virtual bullying in the workplace, and then proceeds to compare the legal position with regard to this phenomenon in the United States of America, South Africa, the United Kingdom and Australia. It concludes with a few possible solutions to this pervasive problem in employment.


Die arbeidswêreld het ongetwyfeld groot baat gevind by die revolusie in inligtingskommunikasietegnologie en die golf van digitalisering van die 21ste eeu - e-pos, webtuistes en virtuele bemarkingsplatforms het waarlik heelwat grense opgehef. Tog is hierdie grense terselfdertyd opgehef vir diegene in die werkplek met minder edel bedoelings: bullebakke. Virtuele bullebakkery, of kuberbullebakkery, in die werkplek wek deesdae wêreldwyd groot kommer. Sommige beskou virtuele bullebakkery as selfs meer sinister as sy fisiese ekwivalent, want persoonlike aanvalle op virtuele platforms is dikwels meer intens, meer gereeld, meer onverwags en moeiliker om stop te sit. Boonop kan dit verreikende gevolge hê, nie net vir die werknemer aan die ontvangkant nie, maar ook vir die soms niksvermoedende werkgewer, wat middellik aanspreeklik gehou kan word. Kuberbullebakkery in die werkplek kan 'n magdom vorme aanneem, waaronder e-pos en SMS'e onder 'n bekende of skuilnaam; kommunikasie met aanstootlike inhoud; negatiewe karakterisering op werk- of persoonlike blogs, en dies meer. Hierdie artikel bied 'n oorsig van die verskil tussen bullebakkery van aangesig tot aangesig teenoor bullebakkery in die virtuele wêreld; bespreek die noodsaaklike elemente en voorkoms van virtuele bullebakkery in die werkplek, en gaan dan oor tot 'n vergelyking van die regstandpunt met betrekking tot hierdie verskynsel in die Verenigde State van Amerika, Suid-Afrika, die Verenigde Koninkryk en Australië. 'n Paar moontlike oplossings vir hierdie diepgaande probleem in die arbeidswêreld word laastens aan die hand gedoen.

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/content/juridic/39/1/EJC169406
2014-06-01
2016-12-04
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