Has the working world gone too far in being politically correct?

In a very interesting recent case of a Sommelier who was dismissed for a number of incidents including mocking a co-worker’s virginity, iHR asks “..where is the line between light-hearted banter and inappropriate conduct?”

From time to time I undertake investigations into inappropriate workplace behaviour and get told:

“Can’t people take a joke?”

“Have we become so politically correct that we can’t have a laugh anymore

Well, if I had known about the policy I wouldn’t have put it in writing, I would have just said it verbally…” (my personal favourite)

Whilst I understand the frustration of a society that has moved perhaps too far the other way, and IS a little too politically correct at times (remember the no flower pots on window sills in London in case they fall off and hit someone on head from a few years ago?), do people really need to have what is acceptable workplace behaviour spelled out for them?

We teach our children what is appropriate in the playground, yet somehow in some instances these same principles seem not to have translated to the workplace.

Or is that people don’t have the skills to say to let people know that they don’t like the banter, the jokes, the language in a way that is clear and not inflammatory?

Is the line really that blurred?  Has it become that difficult to have a joke, to have some fun without offending people? Has the working world really become that politically incorrect? And could we not be devoting the time and energy spent managing these issue to something more positive?

What do you think?

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