We Protect Workers

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.

The workplace should never tolerate sexual jokes

If you announce your disapproval of a certain joke, then you may meet responses such as, “You just don’t have a sense of humor.” Rest assured, there is nothing wrong with your sense of humor if you take offense from sexual jokes. These jokes can include cartoons sent through a company email, jokes told loudly where anyone could hear it or even graphic depictions of sexual acts. Some people may feel compelled to laugh it off, but this can lead to more problems.

In some cases, sexual innuendos serve as gateways to actual sexual advances. A joke in poor taste should come to the attention of the employer, so it does not continue.

An employer should curb this behavior

There are cases where someone makes an off-color joke, and once the individual is aware of how the joke made other people feel, he or she stops. Some people simply make mistakes, and in these cases, a sexual harassment lawsuit may not be necessary. However, if the issue comes to the attention of the human resources department and the perpetrator continues, then there is a problem. Jokes constitute sexual harassment because they create a hostile work environment. Everyone deserves a safe, comfortable space to work in.