Is showing a text joke to a co-worker who asked to see it considered sexual harassment?

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Is showing a text joke to a co-worker who asked to see it considered sexual harassment?

I showed a text to a co-worker who asked what I was looking at. I have since been contacted by HR that I could be let go for sexual harassment. I did not send this text to anyone and was telling co-worker how I can’t believe people send these jokes around. He asked what and I turned my phone to him.

Asked on December 14, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If the joke was one which itself could be sexual harassment if told or stated or sent to another, then yes--it could be. After all, even if your coworker asked to see it, you could certainly have refused to show it to him; he could not force you to display it. Having chosen to show it to him, you could be as liable as it you had sent it to him in the first place. There is no exceptions to the prohibition against sexual harassment for the other person first asking or inquiring--it is always wrong to share, tell, show, etc. sexually explicit or harassing material at work.


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