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Photo by Danilo Rizzuti and made available by FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

Photo by Danilo Rizzuti and made available by FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

Lighten up! “What Son of Bitch gave him his Green Card?!!”

WOW!! If the Oscars weren’t an HR nightmare, I don’t know what was!

There’s an awful lot to be said on the Oscars this year as we have seen, read, argued, watched, and either laughed at or got offended.

Perhaps you were left speechless.

Believe it or not, this type of behavior isn’t only in the movies, it really is everywhere including, unfortunately, the workplace. People may not think of the Oscars as someone’s workplace, but in fact, it is. Think about that for a minute. That is their workplace.

And just because someone is an Oscar winner, doesn’t mean this type of behavior is ok, accepted, allowed, or even funny. However, it also doesn’t mean it’s wrong or make them a bad person.

What it does mean is that people, famous or not, make mistakes and say stupid things. And sometimes, saying stupid things, result in consequences. Sean Penn may not be getting written up and placed on probation, or maybe he is, at his workplace, as someone who worked in a more typical type job might have been. But he is definitely feeling the consequence to his “joke” about his “friend”.

In this clip, I want to address something that many people may be overlooking because they aren’t aware. But the gentleman in this clip is saying that it is OK for Sean to make a joke about his “friend” because that’s the relationship they have. That’s great and we all get that. But Sean was not amongst friends that night. This type of behavior can and as you’ve seen does, offend people. It can be anywhere. But the legal definition of harassment and discrimination is not the person’s intent; it’s how the other person perceived it. “But they’re friends” is not an excuse for inappropriate behavior.

Further, this type of behavior is why our nation has the laws we have. Because, this the type of behavior where people think it’s innocent, really has potential to offend, hurt or even bully someone else. Harassment is not just a physical touch it’s the words we use. Harassment isn’t just sexual, it’s everything; race, sexual orientation, disability, age, gender, pregnancy, military status, marital status, national origin and any other small difference the cruel can latch on to.

Those who may not be offended shrug it off, have a good laugh, and get somewhat engaged. They chuckle and move on passively permitting the behavior.

Or, they sense it is unethical, but “don’t want to get involved”. Some may legitimately not know where to go or what to do.

Some say, “get over it, it’s just a joke”

Both scenarios leave the behavior unchecked and individuals unprotected.

When this behavior is left alone and not dealt with it escalates. This is where it all starts!

As an HR professional, I have gotten to point in my career where I think I have seen it all…

And then I watched the Oscars…

For more information on how VRC address anti-harassment and bullying prevention, visit VRC-HR’s Workplace Harassment Prevention