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Sexual Harassment as a Result of Sexual Jokes
Sexual jokes are very common in the workplace. According to a survey by the New York Times, about 25 percent of men who responded had told crude jokes or stories or shared inappropriate videos in the workplace in the past year. (Dec. 28, 2017.) Sexual jokes may include sexually explicit jokes or stories, innuendo, or injecting humor into discussions of sexual topics. Sexual jokes can be offensive and they can make the working environment at the workplace very unpleasant. More so than ever before, what is a routine joke to one person in today’s multicultural, multigenerational, and multilingual workforce can be extremely offensive to another. Not all sexual jokes meet the standard for unlawful sexual harassment. However, if the sexual joking is so persistent that a reasonable person would find it had altered working conditions as to make it more difficult to do the job (especially if coupled with frequent sexual conversations and visual displays of sexual or demeaning pictures), it may amount to sexual harassment. The "MeToo" / "#MeToo" movement has heightened awareness that such conduct in the workplace need not be tolerated in order to earn a living. Just because another person of your sex might participate in the jokes, does not make such behavior acceptable. California law, including the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), protects employees from hostile working environments that are created by sexual joking. California Government Code § 12940(j)(1). Both men and women can be victims of sexual harassment. Similarly, the harasser can be male or female. In addition, the harasser and victim can be of the same sex.
Example: A female employee works in an office where she is surrounded by male employees. The men in the office like to make sexual jokes with each other even when the female employee is present. Being that she is the only female there, she feels very uncomfortable about the situation. When she expresses this to her male co-workers, it only makes things worse. The men find it funny that she is uncomfortable, so not only do they keep on making sexual jokes around her, but they begin to use her as an example in their jokes, jesting about what blondes say when they are having sex, the co-workers fully aware when making this joke that the female employee has blonde hair. If you are experiencing or have experienced a similar situation, contact our office.
Another example: A female employee used to go out with a male co-worker. However, after a year of dating they both decided that things were not working out. The male employee was not too happy about the situation and began talking about their sex life to other employees. About a year later, the female employee got pregnant. Many of the male employees began spreading rumors that the father might be the male co-worker she used to date. They also began joking about how “easy” the female employee is and how sooner or later she would sleep with each one of them. If you are experiencing or have experienced a similar situation, contact our office.Contact Us
If you have experienced sexual harassment at your workplace, contact the renowned sexual harassment lawyers at Kokozian Law Firm.