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Working with someone who tells offensive jokes

by on
in HR Management,Human Resources

Q. I work with someone who offends me with his jokes. For example, he’ll compare our workplace to being on a “slave boat where we’re all in chains.”

This person isn’t my boss, but he’s friendly with my boss. Whatever he tells my boss about me will have an impact on my future here. Should I speak up?

A. You have three options. You can tell this person privately, “You may not be aware that when you joke about slaves, it’s not funny to me. I’d appreciate it if you would stop.” If you’re firm but polite, the problem may end right there.

Or you can respond with stony silence to his jokes. If he has a brain, he’ll soon realize you don’t welcome his humor.

Finally, you can go to a third party (such as a human resources representative) and complain. That’s sometimes the least effective option incidents can take on a life of their own and distract everyone.

But if the jokes border on harassment—and you’ve already tried the first two options—filing a formal complaint may be in order.

You should not let the fact that this person is friendly with your boss affect your actions, but it may affect your boss’s relationship with you. So tread carefully.

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