Our final case of the absurd is about workplace banter. Mr Reed worked at a plant fertilizer factory whose staff where predominantly male. He had 20 years’ service and an unblemished disciplinary record.
Mr Reed was known for his sense of humour and regularly played jokes on colleagues. After a colleague broke up with his girlfriend – who happened to be tall – Mr Reed bought him a mug that had ‘lanky b****’ graffitied onto it.
A female consultant – who was also tall and had been bought into to restructure the factory – discovered the mug and thought it was aimed at her. Whilst the employer accepted Mr Reed didn’t aim the offensive mug at the consultant he was still dismissed in line with the employers zero tolerance policy on offensive materials.
Even in workplaces with in-jokes that are close to the knuckle an offense is an offense and a dismissal will be within the range of reasonable responses if the misconduct alleged is proved true.