1-Hour Program

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Overview

While the metaverse is relatively new, it has already been plagued by reports of women’s avatars being groped and raped by male avatars, and of other conduct that would be considered sexual harassment and assault if it occurred in the real world.  In an effort to protect avatars from the misconduct of other avatars, Meta created a “personal boundary” function. Similarly, if it becomes the norm for businesses to hold meetings in the metaverse and to onboard employees in their virtual offices, will misconduct that occurs in these virtual workplaces provide the basis for EEOC complaints and lawsuits? These developments highlight the need to determine whether conduct that occurs in the virtual world can give rise to a violation of the law in the real world: a rapidly evolving concept that has brought up complex questions of jurisdiction, intent, and true harm since the advent of the Internet itself.

Our speakers will discuss:

  • A quick overview of how laws apply online, including cyber actions as speech and intent, and jurisdictional concepts (10 minutes)
  • Whether sexual harassment of an avatar (which might be felt by the human wearing a haptic vest while operating the avatar and result in emotional distress) and other unwelcome conduct that would be considered a crime if committed in the physical world can be the basis for criminal charges or civil litigation in the physical world (10 minutes)
  • Who, if anyone, is responsible for policing the metaverse? Do users have remedies beyond reporting a violation of the game’s or platform’s code of conduct? Do users assume the risk of their avatar being assaulted or harassed? (15 minutes)
  • Does an employee whose employer requires them to work in a virtual office in the metaverse have the protections of Title VII?  Can they bring a hostile work environment claim against their employer based on the unwelcome conduct of co-workers’ avatars? (10 minutes)
  • Will a company’s employee handbook and personnel policies apply in the metaverse?  For example, can an employee be disciplined if his avatar violates the dress code set out in the company’s employee handbook?  (5 minutes)
  • If charges or lawsuits can be filed, what kinds of evidence might be necessary to establish or defend against these claims? (10 minutes)

 

 

Faculty:

 

Leeza Garber

Leeza Garber Esq. Consulting

The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

 

Gail Gottehrer

Law Office of Gail Gottehrer LLC

 

 


Industries

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