gossip at a workplace

NSFW Phraseology for $1000 Please

We often say “we just can’t make this stuff up!” and we’re very, very sincere about that statement. I’ve been in human resources and personnel for (gulp) almost 30 years now and STILL get surprised. Case in point – we completed a work place investigation earlier this year and I actually had to look up some of the statement in the Urban Dictionary. No – I’m NOT going to repeat them here! I’ve worked in lots of “shop talk” environments before – not a problem, I’ve got broad shoulders. Some of these? Made me blush and that does NOT happen often! So, again, NO, I’m not going to repeat those statements – allow your imagination to run wild!

And, let’s add “Locker Room” talk into the mix as well. Does it belong at work? Is it work? If I’m on a hot mic but on a break, am I at work? What if I’m subjected to that talk and just agree but don’t actively participate?

Let me address all of these questions in one simple statement – this chatter does not belong at work! Actively participate, on a break, “everyone else was doing it”, you name the excuse. It does not belong at work.

OK, not every environment is the same. I would expect locker room talk to be a little different that office talk at a Day Care facility. Completely different audiences. BUT, appropriate and inappropriate still exists. Certain things just are not appropriate at work. This is simple – in fact, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines it for us!

“Harassment is unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. Harassment becomes unlawful when 1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or 2) the conduct is severe and pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.” https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/harassment.cfm (emphasis added)

And we continue: “Offensive conduct may include, but is not limited to, offensive jokes, slurs, epithets or name calling…ridicule or mockery, insults or put-downs, offensive objects or pictures…”

This is the LAW folks; it goes above and beyond work place codes of conduct. If you are uncomfortable at work – tell someone. If you see someone who MAY be getting harassed at work – tell someone. If you overhear discussions that you wouldn’t have with your mother, daughter, grandmother – put a stop it! And, if you are the supervisor that knows or should know this behavior is taking place? YOU can be named in the law suit right beside your employer. That should be motivation to take action because an average claim settles for over $275,000! That’s not pocket change and a dirty joke sure isn’t worth that!

Not sure when you last conducted Harassment Training? Contact us for a free policy review and 30 minute consultation!

This entry was posted on by HR Resolutions.