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Sexual Harassment Humor Jokes and Jokers

I made a funny comment in our lunchroom, but several people took it the wrong way. My manager called me in and said it was a form of sexual harassment. I never intended it to be taken that way, but now there's a note in my file about this incident. What should I do?

When your funny comments lead to an unfunny written reprimand, it's time for some new material and some new thinking as well. Even if your intent was to do nothing but entertain, when it comes to verbal sexual harassment, intention means less than reception.

One particularly interesting aspect about your situation is that several people interpreted your comment as sexual harassment. Not that it would have been excusable if only one person had been offended, but the fact that several people took it so negatively is very telling.

You probably included your side of the story in your file, and, if not, you may want to do this. However, more importantly, the best step is to learn from this situation. You can certainly continue to have humor at work, while understanding that unwanted sexually-oriented comments, jokes, or actions will create problems for some of your associates and ultimately for you and your company.

The best step from this point is to let your words, actions, and humor demonstrate that you are not a sexual harasser, or, for that matter, any other kind of harasser. As you have seen already, joking in this area is not a joking matter.

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