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San Diego Employment Law Blog

Can jokes be considered sexual harassment?

In the advent of the #MeToo movement, more industries than simply Hollywood have taken a good, hard look at how people treat female employees in the workplace. Many employers have invested in extra efforts to inform workers on what actions are considered sexual harassment

There are still some gray areas, such as where jokes fall into all this. Many men do not see the harm in making an off-color joke at work. While some people may laugh it off, others may become uncomfortable. Ultimately, the workplace needs to be an area where everyone feels safe and supported. In many cases, the court will view a joke as sexual harassment. 

3 tips for talking to managers about harassment

When you go to work, you want to earn a living and utilize your professional talents. The last thing you want is to be subjected to inappropriate behavior at the hands of your colleagues. Unfortunately, though, harassment in the workplace is a common problem. It may be because of your race, gender identity, sexual orientation or nothing at all. Regardless of the context, you need to take action.

Employers should provide staff with resources to address harassment with management, but it is still never easy to stand up for yourself against people who treat you poorly. The following are three tips for initiating an effective conversation with management about the treatment you are experiencing. 

What does it mean that an employer must accommodate workers?

Individuals with disabilities require protections in relation to school, work and public transportation. In 1990, the federal government passed the Americans with Disabilities Act, which is a civil rights law ensuring people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. 

Part of the law states that employers must make reasonable accommodations for workers with disabilities. The language in this provision is a bit vague, and the word "reasonable" can have different meanings to different people. It comes down to the court to decide whether a workplace failed to provide accommodations deemed reasonable, but there are general guidelines both employers and employees should remain aware of. 

Why sexual harassment is so prevalent in restaurants

If you earn your income working in a San Diego-area restaurant, bar or food service establishment, it may not surprise you to know that these work environments are often hotbeds for sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is so common in restaurants and other food service businesses, in fact, that USA Today reports that more sexual harassment claims come from the hospitality sector than any other industry.

With more than 14 percent of all sexual harassment claims filed within a recent 10-year period coming from the restaurant industry, you may wonder exactly what it is about the work environment that makes it such a breeding ground for this type of behavior. Some of the problem is likely due to these facts:

Are jokes sexual harassment?

Comedy is already tricky and subjective, and it becomes even harder to distinguish what is acceptable when dealing with serious subjects. Dave Chappelle recently made jokes about the women of the #MeToo movement on his latest Netflix special, which bombed in the public's eye. 

Whether you work in a restaurant or office building, there may be some wannabe comedians who do not see the harm in partaking in some off-color humor. Depending on the work environment, everyone may be all right with these kinds of jokes, but in other instances, these jabs can absolutely come across as sexual harassment

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