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A “joke” can certainly still be sexual harassment

On Behalf of | Dec 13, 2023 | Employment

Sexual harassment happens in many different ways in the workplace. For instance, quid pro quo sexual harassment is when an employee is pressured to exchange sexual favors for something else, such as a raise or a promotion. There are also cases of sexual harassment where people won’t take no for an answer and continue to pursue a romantic relationship after being turned down.

But many cases are not as drastic as this and may just include comments that are made in a workplace setting. It is potentially harassment when a person is being insulted, targeted intentionally, stereotyped, objectified or even victimized based on their gender and sexual identity.

It’s just a joke…

When things like this happen, one of the most common excuses that people will give is to say that they were “just joking.” Maybe they made a comment that was insulting or that objectified a coworker. But they just thought that it was funny and they were trying to bring humor to the workplace, not realizing that it was having such a negative impact.

It’s important to remember that jokes can be sexual harassment and that this is not an excuse that should get someone out of these allegations. Even if they say that they thought it was funny, that doesn’t change the fact that it may have been insulting or objectifying, for instance. Additionally, the constant bombardment of inappropriate jokes can create a hostile workplace for that employee, even if the jokes are just being told around them and they are not being intentionally targeted.

Employees who are being harassed on the job do not deserve this treatment and there are protections in place. They need to know what legal steps they can take.