Do Inappropriate Jokes Constitute Sexual Harassment?

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When someone makes a joke, and you find it inappropriate, you may tell the person that you feel offended and do not want to hear similar jokes of that kind. However, if the person continues to make jokes of that nature, particularly ones that include you, it can produce an uncomfortable and hostile environment in the workplace. Many people even avoid going to work to avoid such jokes. 

However, avoiding work is not the solution. If someone, perhaps a co-worker, client, or supervisor, makes you uncomfortable by making sexual “jokes,” you can report it and stop the behavior. If your employer does not take any meaningful action to stop this behavior, you can always put your trust in an Austin sexual harassment lawyer. 

Do sexual harassment jokes have to be about a specific person in order to file a complaint in the workplace?

No. The person making the jokes does not have to specifically mention another person’s name for you to make a complaint. They do not have to target a particular person for their joke to count as harassment. Jokes can be about particular sex or gender. For example, it is offensive for a male to make jokes or negative remarks about a woman’s body, even if the person is not specifying which woman they are talking about. 

It is sexual harassment if the humor is based on making fun of or discriminating against a particular sex, which creates a hostile work environment. A hostile work environment is where discriminatory behavior makes it difficult for other people to perform their essential work duties. 

What should you do if a co-worker routinely makes inappropriate sexual jokes? 

First of all, when you hear the joke for the first time, you should confront the teller, explain what they said was wrong and ask them to stop the behavior. If they do not listen to you and continue to make those jokes, or if they begin targeting you while joking, report the incident supervisor or human resources. The HR will help you and the joke-teller find an amicable solution. 

If the HR does not take action or the joke-teller does not quit telling such jokes, you can file a Charge of Employment Discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Federal law allows you to take legal action against such discrimination in the workplace.

As soon as you realize you have fallen victim to workplace discrimination, you should speak to an attorney to help you protect your rights.