Fifty Shades of Grey’ leads to Hostile Work Environment Claims

Talking or discussing about a movie or a book at workplace does not sound offensive unless it is titled ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’. The movie has managed to create hype which is totally negative in nature, especially when it comes to offices or workplace.

Reading a book alone at a workplace was insufficient for an employee to establish a claim under sexual harassment. But after the movie release, its discussions have created a hostile environment at workplace. Vivid discussions about the rough sexual scenes or bondage is not only making employees uncomfortable, but also creating an unhealthy work environment. This emerging problem has already made its way in to the HR and legal departments of companies.

Reports of claims related to hostile work environments have started to do rounds in companies. Discussions related to the main plots of the movie and book is outrageous in nature which is making it difficult for employees to work.

In order to establish a claim of Hostile work environment, an employee needs to show that the topic of discussion involves an explicit content which is objectively and subjectively offensive in nature, and a reasonable man can find such discussions hostile or abusive.

Understanding when a workplace truly qualifies as being hostile is crucial for both employers and employees. It would be the right time for the HR and legal departments of companies to look in to the matter seriously and act upon it.

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