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Salty language but no complaints: Harassment?

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

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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