Do women who earn their livelihood on the Internet – for example, bloggers or digital journalists – have the right to sue under the anti-discrimination laws if they are targets of conduct that impairs their ability to earn a living in that manner? This issue was recently discussed in an article by Amanda Hess on the Pacific Standard website entitled, “Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet.”
In the article, Ms. Hess discusses a potential trend in the law, the basic outline of which was discussed in a 2009 paper in the Boston University Law Review authored by Danielle Keats Citron. To the extent that women must use the Internet to earn a livelihood, if they are harassed or threatened because of their gender, that could be deemed workplace discrimination. The victim might even be able to calculate the lost income from being unable to utilize the Internet for viable employment. This would be analogous to workplace harassment under the current regime of anti-discrimination laws.
It remains to be seen if this idea will gain traction in our jurisprudence. However, with the growing presence of anti-bullying policies in our schools and codes of conduct in a growing list of our institutions, this may represent a means of curbing Internet harassment in the future.