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When could a non-sexual joke be sexual harassment?

On Behalf of | Apr 3, 2023 | Sexual Harassment

Humor is important because it keeps life from getting dull. When people laugh, they generally feel better and are happier.

The workplace has room for humor and jokes, but it is very easy to cross the line if you are not careful. Jokes targeting a certain gender could be considered sexual harassment.

Circumstances of the joke

Federal sexual harassment laws require repeat offenses to constitute sexual harassment. A one-time joke would not qualify. But if someone is making continuous jokes, it could fall under this umbrella, especially if it is making people uncomfortable or creating an unwelcoming work environment for other employees.

It does not matter who is telling the joke. Even a female telling a joke that makes fun of women could commit sexual harassment. Job title also plays no role. Executives are just as capable of harassment as entry-level employees. It does not even have to be a person employed by your company. A vendor or an outsider would also commit sexual harassment.

Important points

You should realize that if you hear a joke and ask the person not to tell such jokes again and they stop, then you do not have a claim. But if you feel that your situation does meet the requirements of sexual harassment, then you have 180 days to file a claim.

Jokes can be fun and keep the workplace light and enjoyable. But they also have the potential to turn dark when they come at someone else’s expense. Jokes about a specific gender often cross the line and become sexual harassment.