News.com reported that the Fair Work Commission reversed a decision by BHP to sack an employee for telling a joke that a woman in the car they were travelling complained.
BHP investigated the 2018 incident and ultimately sacked the worker, who then alleged he had been unfairly dismissed. Commissioner Hunt said - “would be sad to completely lose Australian larrikinism, including in the workplace”.
News.com reported - She said while the joke was “indeed crude”, “particularly vulgar and graphic” and “may easily offend others”, it would not “offend everybody” and there were “many people who would find the joke amusing, even if those persons were to admit that it ‘crossed the line’ and might be considered too much for a joke within the workplace”.
And she said while modern workplaces had changed for the better, with “far less slaps on the bottom, suggestive leering, unsafe initiations on apprentices and other new workers and the removal of provocative posters” there was still “the right to have a sense of humour” in most workplaces.
“A workplace devoid of some humour and the occasional joke is, I consider, to be a very sad, dull and oppressive workplace,” Commissioner Hunt said. “I do not consider, in most circumstances, that an employee should lose their job on account of the telling of a single joke.”
BHP chief executive Mike Henry has slammed the Fair Work Commission ruling that the company was wrong to sack the worker over the joke.
He told The Australian BHP remained “totally resolute in stopping sexual harassment in our business”.
Here we have two views - one party called this particular joke ‘sexual harassment’ while the other party calls dismissal ‘over the top’.
In other words. Particular jokes can be weaponised. The employer makes a determination as to what is politically incorrectly. Has the work place now become a ,jokeless community. Is every word anyone says might now, be construed, in some way to be a sackable offense. Who would pass any test of this kind.
There are innumerable web sites of pulpit jokes - indeed many of them in bad taste. Any congregant might get upset and make a complaint and the outcome might well be in this vein is ‘fun discrimination’.
A Minister might be counselled. A new rule might apply, no jokes allowed from this pulpit.
Where might it end with those laymen (women) in the churches who have a strong penchant for ‘control’ – such people are legend. I know of one congregation of 20 people and such a controller left the church and within months to had grown to 260 people.
Many a dad joke are more like parables than anything else. They tell a story. They tell mirth. They tell situational ethics. They reveal psychology. They have much truth about them.
Nursery Rhymes were also in this same vein. The political satire of their day in the 18th and 19th centuries. Political jokes can be viewed every day in newspapers around the nation – many in very poor taste.
When will dad jokes be banned. What do-gooder will put up their hand and claim the dad joke is unacceptable. Then those pure lily-white managing director types will come into their own …. as will every determined feminist and supposed man hater.
Christianity is full of laughter and humour and I might add, as are dad jokes. They often reflect ‘justice’ and ‘righteousness’. Yes, sometimes in bad taste. Yes, sometimes quite rude and disgusting – well that is in the eye of the viewer. The Pharisees saw what Jesus said as vile and politically threatening. There’s the rub.
A recent dad joke of mine to the young writers – with many implications
‘Complaints Window. Now located at the roof-top garden. Hope it’s raining.’
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand. Dr Mark Tronson’s Press Service International in 2019 was awarded the Australasian Religious Press Association’s premier award, The Gutenberg.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at