Whenever I conduct a non-harassment seminar, the first several minutes usually meet with giggles and sophomoric humor from the managers I’m training. As the seminar progresses, however, the managers become more sober as they realize the impact that a harassment allegation can mean for their careers or the business they work for.
Lots of problems arise when humor turns bad. What can start as an innocent joke can often get totally blown out of proportion and turn from innocence to a hostile work environment. Here’s an article in today’s South Florida Sun-Sentinel on exactly that subject.
Managers need to prevent harassment from occurring – no silly jokes, no non-work-related e-mails and – when you see anything start, it’s your job to end it immediately.
Bottom line: There is nothing funny about sexual harassment.
Harassment is not necessarily what is said or done, but how it’s perceived.