Employees offer an array of creative excuses when trying
to defend their actions in what is known as a hostile work
environment harassment case.
Here is excuse #3 of the top 10 excuses:
“It was only a joke.”
Strange thing about this “joke” is that the only person
who was not laughing is the person who was the object of
the joke or the person offended by the joke.
HR CONTRARIAN POINTER: Harassment is no joking matter.
In today’s environment, a person does not have to aligned
with a particular group to be offended by a joke. In
other words, you don’t have to be Catholic to be offended
by a joke about the Pope.
I know there is a fine line between being so politically
correct that the fun and good natured humor of the
workplace can become strangled. But, the definition of
“good natured humor” needs to be clearly defined and
regularly updated by management.
Companies need to make it perfectly clear and make it a
matter of policy that it is the company that is offended
by the joke, regardless of whether it offends anyone in
the workplace or not.
Here is a very simple response that you can use when
someone gives the “It was only a joke” defense. Try
rephrasing the comment by saying, “So in other words, you
are saying that you were only making fun of… (insert the
object of the joke here, such as women, Catholics, Blacks,
Jews, Latinos, etc.).”