Workplace Harassment – Is It Humor or Really Harassment?

We generally associate workplace harassment with events such as a supervisor seeking sexual favors from a subordinate. However, many lesser but still serious workplace harassment complaints have been made due to misguided, misinterpreted or meanspirited remarks. Any seasoned HR person will tell you the bulk of their employee relations complaints start with remarks that people often claimed as being an attempt at “humor.”

Sometimes it is clear what is “over the line.” Other times it can be hard to determine whether what was presented as fun was merely a tone-deaf attempt at humor or was meant as a derogatory comment cloaked under the guise of humor.

A key determinant of whether workplace harassment occurred is that the conduct must be unwelcome. Welcome vs unwelcome conduct encompasses so many nuances as to be almost infinite. The conduct that is otherwise welcome between some employees is out of the question when it affects other employees.

What your company must do is to create policies and procedures regarding acceptable workplace conduct, communicate those polices, train your workforce and enforce the polices vigorously. Create a self-regulating culture where good natured, kind humor is always welcome, but derogatory, mean spirited so called humor is never welcome and employees know the difference between the two.

Areas Covered in the Session :

  • What your policies on “humor” should contain
  • How to communicate those policies to your workforce.
  • The role and responsibility of leaders in creating a respectful workplace.
  • Determining accountability regarding so called humorous remarks.
  • How discussing “current big events” can bring big trouble. Putting on the breaks.
  • What to do when welcomed personal conversations/conduct between employees offend bystanders who find the conduct offensive.
  • What to do with the “diversity dinosaur.”
  • How to handle the person whose conduct actually worsens after counselling.
  • Tips for investigating employee complaints of harassing remarks.
  • How to respond to:
    • That’s just how I am!
    • It’s part of my culture!
    • She or he is oversensitive!
    • I didn’t mean to offend!
    • She or he took it the wrong way!
    • I was making fun of myself, and he or she is not even ____!
    • I was just discussing current newsworthy events!
    • He or she or my boss is much worse, let me tell you about what he or she does!

Who Should Attend:

  • Senior HR Professionals
  • HR Analysts
  • HR Mangers & Directors
  • HR Personnel
  • Managers & Supervisors
  • Employee Relations Professionals
  • Line managers
  • Directors, Vice Presidents & Managers of Recruiting/Retention
  • Directors, Vice Presidents & Managers of Human Resources
  • Employment Managers/Specialists
  • HR Coordinators/Supervisors


Teri Morning

  • Teri Morning, MBA, MS, SHRM-SCP specializes in solving company “people problems.”
  • Teri is the founder and a principal partner in HindsightHR – employee investigation and incident case management software.
  • Teri also sources software solutions for compensation and performance management.
  • Twenty+ years human resource and training experience in a variety of fields, including retail, distribution, architectural, engineering, consulting, manufacturing (union), public sector and both profit and non-profit companies.
  • Teri has enjoyed consulting with employers on their problems and trained managers and employees for over 20 years, meeting and working with employees from all types of businesses.
  • In addition to a MBA, Teri has a Master’s degree in Human Resource Development with a specialization in Conflict Management.
  • Teri was certified by the State of Indiana in mediation skills, Teri is certified in Project Management and IT Management, qualified as a Myers-Briggs practitioner and holds the SHRM certification of a Senior Certified Professional.

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  • Presentation Handout in .pdf format
  • Presentation from the Speaker
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  • Certificate of Attendance
  • Recording access Information with Password to view the webinar, will be sent 24 hours after the completion of the Live webinar.
  • Presentation Handout in .pdf format
  • Certificate of Attendance