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Gen Xer Shares How He Was Accused Of ‘Sexual Harassment’ For Using ‘80s Reference That His Gen Z Colleague Didn’t Understand
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Funny, People6 months ago

Gen Xer Shares How He Was Accused Of ‘Sexual Harassment’ For Using ‘80s Reference That His Gen Z Colleague Didn’t Understand

The gap between different generations might be bigger than you think. It’s not just a difference in the tech we used or fashion trends—there’s a whole bunch of pop culture baggage that comes with being born in a particular decade. And newer generations might not even be aware of the stuff that used to be popular in their managers’, parents’, or grandparents’ time. Sometimes, obvious comedy can land members of the older gens in hot water because those youngsters just don’t get the references and take things literally.

That’s exactly what happened to one redditor who shared their work story with the r/tifu (‘Times I Effed Up’) online community. He explained how using an old commercial jingle during a meeting made him get into trouble with human resources because some of the younger crowd thought it was ‘sexual harassment.’

You’ll find the full story below, dear Pandas. Have a read, tell us what you think of the entire situation, and if you’ve ever been misunderstood by a younger or older coworker, be sure to share what happened in the comment section.

Not everyone at work might get old pop culture references or jokes. Some even label them ‘sexual harassment’

Image credits: Product School (not the actual photo)

An employee got in trouble with HR after referring to an old commercial that was super popular back in the day

Image credits: Kevin Noonan









Luckily, everything ended fine for the redditor when everyone got the joke. However, it just goes to show that humor at work might not make everyone laugh. Some colleagues might get offended (even if there’s nothing insulting there, really). Bored Panda previously spoke to comedy writer and stand-up comedian Ariane Sherine about the importance of humor in the workplace. She also shared her thoughts about whether or not it’s actually worth being the office clown.

In the comedian’s opinion, humor and fun help motivate employees. There’s definitely a positive effect there. “The more fun you have at work, the more likely you are to want to be at work, so you’re happy to stay for longer and happy to be there in the first place,” she told us that nobody’s enthusiastic to go back to work in a miserable, toxic environment.

“My last job was a blast, we had loads of fun and it was a really warm, friendly environment so I couldn’t wait to get into work in the mornings,” she said that a wholesome, collegial environment encourages workers to do their best and go the extra mile.

“It’s difficult not to take work seriously when it takes up so much of your life, and if it’s impairing your happiness then you need to look for a new job,” she said that we shouldn’t spend all our time being miserable. There are options out there. Better ones.
According to Ariane, the more skilled and irreplaceable you are at your job, the more allowances you get when it comes to humor.

“Sure, you can be the office clown, but only if you’re really good at your job too. No one’s going to mind you joking around if you’re also acing it at work,” the comedy expert stressed that nobody will mind a joke or two from time to time if you’re getting results.

“It’s when it’s detrimental to your work that people start to frown upon it. But I’ve always been the company clown and I’ve found it’s a great way to get through the grind of a workday!”

For those of you Pandas who might not know the jingle (or might need a refresher), here’s the full commercial

Depending on whom you ask, the differences between generations can be seen as either superficial or fundamental. Financial expert Sam Dogen, the author of ‘Buy This, Not That: How to Spend Your Way to Wealth and Freedom’ and the founder of ‘Financial Samurai,’ recently shared his thoughts about these differences with Bored Panda.

“As someone who used to manage a small team in finance, the one thing I appreciated the most from employees was effort. If employees were trying their best to get things done and showed that they cared, I knew they were going places. Showing you give a damn about your fellow colleagues and your work is more than half the battle,” he said that managers appreciate honest, hard work.

“Bosses can inspire their employees by giving a damn as well! If the boss is always coming in on time, taking their subordinates out for lunch to see how they are doing, and works hard, employees will be inspired. And when employees are inspired, they will care more and do better work. It is a virtuous cycle,” the expert told us.

“Great bosses lead by example. They are not micromanagers either. Instead, they are honest about difficult situations, believe in their employees, support their employees, and engender trust.”

Sam revealed to Bored Panda that he’s a member of Gen X—he’s turning 45 this summer. In his former job, he oversaw some younger employees, as well.

“We grew up without the internet and now have the internet. I did manage a couple of employees who were 10 years younger than me, hence the millennial generation. One got in trouble because he felt entitled to a much larger bonus than $20,000 after his first year out of college! After he got his bonus, he refused to come to work for a week. That was an interesting situation,” he shared with us.

“It seems like more employees want to reach the corner office sooner, without putting in their dues. This may be perhaps due to the internet, social media, and how quickly information is disseminated. When you see someone on social media get super-rich quickly, you start feeling the same way too.”

Here’s how people reacted to what happened. Some of them thought it was either amusing or weird that someone didn’t know the reference














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Ryan-James O'Driscoll
Community Member
6 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I have been called racist for using the phrase "the pot calling the kettle black" because the person who reported me hadn't heard it. I appreciate that misunderstandings can occur (and of course genuine harassment), and it's sensible to think about other ways things can be interpreted. But the burden isn't entirely on the speaker. Automatically jumping to the worst possible interpretation of what someone is saying (especially when that interpretation doesn't really make any sense) can have real consequences.

JB
Community Member
6 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Same here for saying “I’m on it like white on rice”. Someone complained to my boss. He gave me a verbal warning (I don’t blame him for that, it’s his job when a complaint has been made). I blank-face stuttered “but it’s NOT racist and never has been! Why are you giving me grief instead of educating the person complaining that it’s a long-standing, well-known, phrase with no racial connotations whatsoever? Why is their failure to comprehend my fault?” He had no answer for that.

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Keith O
Community Member
6 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

This guy has an extremely high level of emotional intelligence. The way he talked through the whole thing makes me really respect him. I probably wouldn't have been so gracious about the misunderstanding, and that sucks, but he was and it's awesome. He's hit the nail on the head with so many of his points.

Tiffany Schmidt
Community Member
6 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I agree, he handled the post and comments really well

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Mad McQueen
Community Member
6 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Good point. We can't reference the past. They can't do the same to current stuff. No Reese for you. No dojo cat for them.

Bittersweetie
Community Member
6 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Oh gurl and you know if anything gets even remotely banned ideologically or otherwise anywhere near my Reese's PBC's that IS the hill I will die on!💁bye!

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Jono
Community Member
6 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Some peoples minds work in strange ways. I couldn’t see anything sexual or harassing in it.

Monday
Community Member
6 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Same...I'd never heard of the commercial either but my mind certainly doesn't jump to sex.

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NicNor5560
Community Member
6 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Downvote me I don't care but there are so many outs out there that it's easy for someone to blame someone else for your own feelings. There is nothing sexual/racist/ageist in what he said and whatever else people said in the comments above/below. That woman was way too fast to blame that man for the sexual orientation her mind went through. Keep your head out of the gutter! Not everything is about you!

Wondering Alice
Community Member
6 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I can completely see where you are coming from, but would like to offer another view. My first real job in the 90's, I was a 16 year old girl working with men in their 30's and 40's. I didn't understand a lot of their references, but was conditioned that this was entirely my problem so I kept quiet and did my job. A few times I felt comments might be sexual, and told the man (it was mainly just one) I felt uncomfortable. He told me to grow up. When he followed me in to a cupboard wielding a vibrater and trying to unbutton my blouse I screamed and got away - only to be told I had led him on by accepting his inuando. I've been teaching a long time and tell students - if it makes you uncomfortable, go tell HR. A lot of people of my generation have similar stories, that has a lot to do with why we tell the following generations to speak out quickly. I felt th OP got this.

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kjorn
Community Member
6 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

people's skin are so thin... it's ridiculous

John Baker
Community Member
6 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

It's beyond ridiculous. I almost feel sorry for the "wokesters." When the pendulum swings the other way, as it sooner or later inevitably will, I don't think they're going to like it much. It's going to be quite traumatic for them.

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Tilfeldig Forbipasserende
Community Member
6 months ago (edited) Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

In therapy, people who suffer from social anxiety, or paranoia, are advised to think twice before jumping to a conclusion. Example: { If you suggest to someone to hang out, and they sound grumpy and say no, don't assume that it is because they are mad at you or dislike you. It may just as well be because they're not feeling well, or have had sleepless night. } This is good advice that can be used in many situations, such as in this post. Before you assume that there is bad intent: Stop and think - consider that you may have misunderstood. If you can, ask "What do you mean?". Consult other people and the internet. It can save you a whole lot of stress, fear and trouble.

-
Community Member
6 months ago (edited) Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Tilfeldig Forbipasserende, very good advice there in vague situations. It recently occurred to me that a friend might be prejudiced against a group to which I belong. It's ambiguous enough for me to wonder if I may be overthinking it. But it's bothersome enough for me to think that they are suspicious of my group. I'm consulting the internet for now to get a variety of views. I'm also trying to come up with innocuous-sounding questions for my friend and training myself to stay calm if I don't like the answers.

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Zophra
Community Member
6 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Why not just immediately ask the person what they meant by that? And then take it from there.

Lorie Shewbridge
Community Member
6 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Right! If I’d been there and didn't understand (which I do know the commercial) I’d just have turned around, looked him in the eye and said, “Excuse ME!”

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Noriki Tatakino
Community Member
6 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

People just need to STOP. After all CONTEXT MATTERS. On what planet does getting chocolate in peanut butter become even remotely sexual in the context of “this marketing proposal coupled with this sales pitch will really cut costs and drive revenue” ? And what happened to “I don’t understand what you mean, can you clarify?” As a suitable response?

NicNor5560
Community Member
6 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

HR is also in the wrong here. For taking her complaint, for not understanding, and the way the guy was treated.

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Paul Davis
Community Member
6 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

This reminds me of the elderly janitor who was fired from his job at a middle school because he loved to sing the incredibly innocent "Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it's Off To Work We Go" song from children's film "Snow White", which he had been doing for literally decades until then. Inexplicably, no on in the school administration had ever seen the movie nor heard of the song and simply assumed he was somehow singing a song about prostitutes.

Stephanie Paich
Community Member
6 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

The solution is, instead of running to HR with every little problem you have, you TALK to the person and let them know what they said upset you. If it really had been inappropriate, she could have attempted to tell you to knock it off herself before running to tattle, would have saved a lot of time and embarrassment. I'm from an area where none of the workers ever would have gone to HR until they tried every possible other option of coming to an agreement with their coworker.

Xiaolinstyle
Community Member
6 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

In this situation it isn't practical to assume that a young woman is going to be comfortable confronting an older man. But it is 100% her obligation to do the smallest amount of research or questioning before bolting to HR.

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Elsie
Community Member
6 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

You really do have to be careful what you say these days although it was a commercial it wasn't slang. I would have been confused too but I will say this I wish more people wouldn't be scared to clarify or say that they are offended before going to hr or management. The person should have given this guy a chance to apologize or explain what it meant instead of causing trouble

NicNor5560
Community Member
6 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I don't agree. We shouldn't have to think what the others will think before saying something, unless, of course, you mean to hurt or you know you will hurt. The OP should not apologize; he was not out of line - the lady was.

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