The Financial Review has reported that the woman, identified only as Jane Doe, states that she was working at a Fortune 500 company, when a banker sent her flirtatious messages and a graphic photo via LinkedIn. Initially, he had contacted her regarding potential job opportunities.
The woman alleged that after expressing an interest in the job being offered, the conversation shifted away from recruitment communication. According to court filings, Aaron Eichler, Managing Director at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, identified by Doe as the banker in question, then sent her the following messages:
“So, what are you doing up so late?! Here’s my number if you wanna play [sic].”
He added that it could be their “late night secret”.
Eichler is then alleged to have sent Doe a picture of his genitals. After Doe didn’t reply, Eichler said: “Ugh, I guess I screwed up 🙁 bummer dude.”
A spokesman for Eichler’s employers, SunTrust, released the following statement: “We take allegations of this nature very seriously, do not condone harassing conduct and take appropriate actions as warranted. HR guidelines dictate that you don’t sexually harass people at work — LinkedIn a work environment.”
With LinkedIn a go-to tool for recruiters, the employment industry, in particular, has to be cautious not to make online communication unprofessional.
Suzi Owen, a LinkedIn spokeswoman, warns that unprofessional messaging, particularly sexual messaging via the network, is totally unacceptable. Owen said that sexual messaging “is prohibited and violates our user agreement, and we investigate and take action when violations are identified.”
Unfortunately, the Financial review has reported that many women have suffered from unwanted sexual advances on LinkedIn.
One woman, who wanted to remain anonymous, told the Financial Review that: “[LinkedIn] is not much more professional than any other social network site, in that people are messy and bring their messes everywhere.”
A female recruiter, Stephanie Charleston, who runs her own recruitment business, said that prospective candidates do ask her out on dates and she often gets flirty messages over LinkedIn.
Charleston said that one candidate even asked her to have weekly phone conversations with her in exchange for money.
As a result of the Eichler case, Doe has locked down her social and professional networking accounts – although she is worried about the impact this could have on her career. Her lawyer, Ben Meiselas, said: “Corporate sexual harassment training must meet the demands of an evolving digital world.”
The lawsuit continues.
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