Eubanks, B. (n.d.). The right and wrong way to use humor in the workplace. Human Resources Management Software Solution | HR Acuity.

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Point: Can lead to legal issues within the workplace

Proof: It’s not always apparent when someone is offended or upset by a particular attempt at humor, but by the time the letter arrives from the employee’s legal counsel claiming harassment, it’s too late to fix the issue. And trying to claim “it was only a joke” isn’t a legal defense, according to attorney Jonathan Segal.

The good and the bad of using humor to communicate in business. (n.d.). SnappConner.

Point: Humour in the workplace can be insulting to once intelligence

Proof: it can also be a double-edged sword for the professional who’s ready to be taken seriously when it comes to completing a project or simply getting ahead

Second proof Or there’s the joke that goes a step too far into crassness or political incorrectness, or disrespects the company, the manager, or a member of the team.

There’s the clever IM messaging during a meeting mocking the boss or making fun of a client, or giving in to the sudden urge to tweet an acerbic note to your social media pals without directly naming the company or the boss. “Haven’t they heard about early outs around here? It’s Friday; I’m dying!” Or “Don’t you hate it when the boss asks you to do something he could have done faster himself?” At the least, a career-limiting move. At the worst, career-ending.

Inappropriate humor in the workplace: The risks of being funny. (2017, November 2). ELI Learning & Training.

Point: Inappropriate humour can cause discrimination to groups or minorities.

Proof: “Microaggression” is a term used to describe a subtle but offensive comment or action. Microaggressions are often unintentional or unconscious, and they usually reinforce a stereotype of a minority group.

This NPR story lists some examples of microaggressions: an African American woman being complimented for being “articulate,” people of certain ethnicities being asked where they’re “really” from, and LGBTQ individuals being told that they “don’t look gay.”

Inappropriate humor in the workplace: Why this behavior needs to stop. (2020, September 1). EVERFI.

Point: Inappropriate use of humour can also be another form of sexual harassment

Proof: In addition to harassment training, a program that teaches and reinforces empathy toward other employees is a great way to deal with inappropriate jokes. These programs help employees see situations from other peoples’ perspectives in order to better understand why inappropriate humor in the workplace is harmful. Explore diversity and inclusion programs and training programs that focus on employees’ self-awareness.

Inappropriate jokes create hostile environments. (2020, July 2). Ricotta & Marks, P.C.

Point: Use of humour can be a sign of workplace bullying for people with disabilities which can lead to depression and anxiety

Proof: Managers should have procedures in place to determine whether or not a comment should be deemed inappropriate. It is recommended that they use the “reasonable person” standard. This involves looking at the situation from the perspective of a similar person (in terms of race, gender, disability, etc.). If the joke seems inappropriate, it probably is.

A hostile work environment can lead to depression, anxiety, and lower self-esteem. This affects productivity, which is why employers should help harassed employees. Otherwise, the employers can be sued and face penalties for allowing a hostile work environment to exist.

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