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How do you feel when you hear sexual innuendo at work?
At the very least, Utah resident Trudy Nycole Anderson didn't enjoy its presence, filing a federal lawsuit against her employer after her former boss provided a schedule of dress that suggested such events as "Tube-top Tuesday" and "Wet T-shirt Wednesday."
Are you laughing? Or are you cringing?
As an employer, it better be the latter.
Sexual innuendo at work is not a new thing, and may be even more prevalent as the younger generations--more open with their sexuality--enter the workforce.
However, it can create a serious problem for you as a business owner.
To rise to level of sexual harassment, sexual innuendo must be unwanted and either interfere with an individual's employment or be so pervasive as to create a hostile environment.
Further, harassment doesn't not exist just because an employee doesn't speak up, or the innuendo is two-sided. Some employees do not wish to rock the boat, or may fear retaliation.
And pervasive sexual innuendo may not affect the participants, but it can impact other employees who must listen to such conversations. This, too, can rise to the level of a hostile work environment.
And don't think about dismissing sexual innuendo that involves male victims, same-sex harassment, or low-level employees. The gender or job description of an employee may be instructive, but they do not preclude a finding of sexual harassment.
So do yourself a favor, and the next time you hear sexual innuendo at work, say something to your employees. And if its coming from you, the boss, quit it before your employees do.
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