Advocating For California Employee Rights

You don’t have to “put up” with sexist jokes

On Behalf of | Sep 19, 2022 | Employment Law

You may have a co-worker or a supervisor who likes to make off-color jokes. Maybe they see it as a way of bonding with the other employees. Maybe they honestly think the jokes are funny and not offensive.

You find these jokes to be inappropriate for the workplace, and you mention it to them. But they tell you that you’re just going to have to put up with it because that’s the way the workplace culture is. They laugh and say that maybe you just need to “lighten up” or “get a sense of humor.” The implication is that they’re not doing anything wrong and that this is not a type of harassment.

Jokes can be harassment

But the truth here is that jokes can certainly be sexual harassment. They have even been identified as a type of sexual bullying. It could be that the other individual is deliberately telling jokes to you (or around you) in order to insult you or get a rise out of you at every turn. They could fully be intending to harass you but trying to use the idea that it is “just a joke” to cover their tracks or make it look less serious than it is.

But even if that intent isn’t there – if they honestly believe that they should be allowed to tell whatever jokes that they want – they could still be violating your rights. There are standards in the workplace and you should not be treated like this, regardless of what the other individual believes about that treatment. In other words, just because they think it shouldn’t be offensive does not mean that it isn’t offensive.

If you have been dealing with this at work, make sure you understand all of your legal options.