U.K.: Offensive Workplace Comments Still Common

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By Rick Vollmar

Oct. 5—“If she's pregnant, she doesn't want a career,” although “in many respects women are people too.”

These are not comments one would expect to hear in any 21st century workplace, but according to a survey by British law firm Thomas Mansfield, these statements and many at least equally offensive are not uncommon.

As partner Meredith Hurst said in a post on the firm's blog, “Legalities in an office/workplace can be very difficult. What some people see as ‘banter' others see as ‘bullying.' Flippant comments can have heavy repercussions for both employers and employees. Making sure a zero-tolerance culture is implemented is always the best solution but this said, there are stillgoing to be cases where people are offended by comments made.”

Pick a Target

Among the “most shocking” comments reported to Thomas Mansfield, in addition to those above, were:

• “You can't contribute. You're only 20.”

• “Bisexuals are just greedy.”

• “She's only here because she knows somebody.”

• “Eat your lettuce and shut up” rather than brag about your diet.

• “The French are always on strike.”

• “Why is he so angry? Must be ginger [redhead] rage.”

• “She's tiny. She's the perfect height for a . . . .”

The conclusion of the final comment Ms. Hurst left to the reader's imagination.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rick Vollmar at rvollmar@bna.com

The Thomas Mansfield blog post is available at http://www.thomasmansfield.com/blog/posts/offence-in-the-workplace.