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Editor's Column: How Many Bad Jokes Does It Take

Shawna Kreis Shawna Kreis , 6/20/2016
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Don Phin

I recently reported on a California case in which a manager was fired partly because he and his buddies would tell off-color jokes after work in one guy's office, out of the earshot of others. A female attorney who was investigating a claim brought by a poorly performing employee felt that such conduct violated the company's sexual harassment policies, even though it had nothing to do with the claim being filed.

I say, only in America!

I realize that many people today are hypersensitive to finding their rights violated. The complaining employee in this case seemed to be such a person. If, for some reason, someone feels ostracized by society or the demographics of the company where they work, they will constantly be filtering events to show that others are discriminatory and insensitive. Of course, at the family picnic next week, this "offended" employee will be laughing when their uncle tells the same jokes they found so offensive in the workplace.

Today's workplace has changed. Mad Men is a period piece. Whether you like the great cleansing of the American workplace or not, it's reality. So, if you want to give an employer an excuse to fire you, tell some off-color jokes on the job - or you might realize that's probably not worth it and tell them outside the workplace. Things have gotten to the point that Prairie Home Companion jokes can be deemed offensive when uttered in the workplace. Are we so stressed that we've lost all sense of humor?

I'll leave you with a safe joke my 11-year old told me that you can share in all sorts of company: "What did the green grape say to the purple grape?" Answer: "You gotta breathe, man!" As I see it, there are too many hyper-sensitive folks in the workplace that could do some breathing as well.