Inappropriate jokes in the workplace are not only offensive; they are also unlawful. Sexual jokes that result in a hostile work environment in New Jersey may be the basis of a sexual harassment lawsuit. If you have been subjected to offensive jokes in your workplace, talk to the sexual harassment attorneys at Castronovo & McKinney, LLC.
We are dedicated to helping workers from all walks of life fight back against sexual harassment. Although having a sense of humor can be a positive trait, sexual jokes can create a stressful and intimidating environment, regardless of your sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
Despite federal, state, and local laws designed to protect employees against harassment, inappropriate joking is commonplace. Whether sexual jokes rise to the level of a hostile work environment is subject to interpretation, however.
At Castronovo & McKinney, we have extensive experience handling sexual harassment claims and will work to protect your employment rights. Trust our employment law attorneys to be your dedicated advocates and fight to win you just compensation. Contact our Manhattan or Morristown office today to discuss your case.
Is Sexual Joking Inappropriate or Hostile in New Jersey?
Sexual jokes in the workplace may be spoken, transmitted in an email, or shared in a messaging app. An offhand comment or single remark may not be considered harassment, however, unwelcome jokes of a sexual nature that are severe or pervasive enough to interfere with the victim’s job performance can create a hostile work environment.
Examples of Inappropriate Jokes
Offensive jokes in the workplace that may constitute sexual harassment include:
- Jokes that demean a person’s gender (male or female) or gender identity (nonbinary)
- Offensive comments about a coworker’s sexuality or sexual orientation
- Sexual comments about an employee’s appearance
- Gifts of a sexual nature
- Sexual gestures
While some employees may consider inappropriate jokes harmless, a coworker can be easily offended. Even worse, some individuals intentionally make sexual jokes as a way to intimidate subordinates or colleagues.
Regardless of the motivation, offensive jokes are never justified and violate applicable anti-harassment laws, including Title VII of the Civil Act of 1964 (Title VII) and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. By working with an experienced sexual harassment attorney, you can rest assured that your rights will be protected.
Why You Need Castronovo & McKinney, LLC
No one should put up with being subjected to sexual harassment, but taking legal action against an employer can be intimidating. Nonetheless, all employers in New Jersey have a legal obligation to provide their employees with a work environment free from harassment and can be held liable for inappropriate jokes told by anyone (supervisor, coworker, vendor, customer, client) that rise to the level of harassment.
That’s where Castronovo & McKinney come in. We have in-depth knowledge of the applicable employment laws which we leverage to achieve successful outcomes in and out of the courtroom. If you have been subjected to inappropriate jokes, we will take the time to listen to your story and help you explore your legal options.
By conducting an extensive investigation, we will work to determine whether:
- Offensive jokes are common in your workplace
- The jokes were directed at you personally
- The jokes were based on your gender
- You complained about the offensive jokes
- Your employer failed to stop the inappropriate jokes
We understand your concerns about coming forward about sexual harassment, but you should know that your employer cannot retaliate against you for complaining about harassment. This means your employer cannot take adverse employment action against you (firing, demoting, disciplining) for exercising your legal rights.
Legal Remedies for Inappropriate Jokes in the Workplace
If we determine that you have a viable sexual harassment claim, we will work to help you obtain compensation through negotiation, arbitration, or litigation. Depending on the circumstances, victims of sexual harassment may be awarded compensatory damages, liquidated damages, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees.
Because we are committed to eliminating sexual harassment in the workplace, we also work to defend business clients against workplace harassment claims arising from inappropriate jokes and help them design policies and procedures to prevent harassment.
Representing Victims of Inappropriate Jokes in the Workplace in New Jersey
Having a few laughs is one thing, inappropriate jokes in the workplace are another matter. Your employer may not know the difference, but the lawyers at Castronovo & McKinney, LLC do. We believe that all employees have the right to work in an environment free from inappropriate jokes and offensive comments.
Our legal team has extensive experience representing clients in administrative proceedings before the New Jersey Civil Commission on Civil Rights and in state court. Although sexual harassment claims can often be resolved through settlement negotiations, we are always prepared to litigate to achieve the best possible outcome. Regardless of the forum, we will fight to protect your employment rights and your reputation. Contact our office today to schedule your initial consultation.