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.
- HR law 101: Always follow up with employee who has filed internal discrimination complaint
- Detailed disciplinary records show you're not biased
- Investigating Harassment: How to Determine Credibility
- Salary deduction for part-Week absence doesn't always destroy exemption
- Build a firewall against Internet, e-mail liabilities