“It was just a joke”
Bad behaviour disguised as a joke
Typical examples of this behaviour include:
- Discriminatory references to race, gender, religion, disability, age, sexist comments, sexual harassment, and so on.
- Pranks and games. When it comes to tools, vehicles and machinery, no games or pranks can be afforded. Injuries can easily occur during pranks while working in close proximity to a tractor or hammer mill, for example.
- Horseplay. This entails rough or rowdy games or pranks at the workplace and can include activities such as pranks involving physical contact, playing around, racing, grabbing, social pressure to engage in unsafe acts, harassment and unauthorised competitions.
- Information shared on social media platforms such as WhatsApp.
- Threats. When one employee threatens to harm another, including verbally and non-verbally (for example an intimidating look or hand gestures that make you feel unsafe).
A so-called ‘joke’ that goes awry will expose the employer to various risks, including injuries on duty, damage to property, damage to team dynamics when workplace relationships break down, damage to the employer’s public image, grievances, referrals to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), and court cases.
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