Q. Can vulgar language and jokes, etc., be considered harassment in the workplace if nobody actually files a complaint? — M.N., Maryland
A. An employer cannot be expected to provide employees with a completely antiseptic workplace, so a certain amount of vulgar language, etc., is allowable. However, gender-specific profanities could support a female employee’s hostile environment sexual harassment claim, even if the words were not directed at her.
While the general use of profanities isn’t a Title VII violation, employees who can swear and use vulgarities with impunity are not likely making a distinction between what’s legal and what’s not.
Your best bet: Clean it up.
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- Required: Investigating all harassment complaints Not required: Providing a perfect workplace