Sexual Harassment

If you’ve experienced this unwanted behaviour in the workplace, you can do something about it.

What is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment is a serious form of discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 and is against the law – no matter where it happens. Sexual harassment may take many forms but is usually said to occur when someone behaves in a way which makes you feel distressed, intimidated or offended and where the behaviour is of a sexual nature.

It is important to remember that sexual harassment can happen to both men and women both physically, verbally and even non-verbally.

Sexual harassment can include:

• Sexual comments or jokes
• Physical behaviour such as touching, pinching, patting etc.
• Displaying pictures, photos or drawings of a sexual nature
• Sending emails with a sexual content.

Sexual harassment could be a series of incidents or a one-off and it doesn’t matter whether it was deliberate or accidental. The law also says that sexual harassment happens when the behaviour is meant to or has the effect of either:

• Violating your dignity, or
• Creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.

If you suffer detriment as a result of reporting sexual harassment you experienced,to your employer you may also have a claim for victimisation.

Is my employer responsible if another employee harasses me

Under the Equality Act, employers are responsible for any staff who harass other employees, however they can escape such liability if they can demonstrate that they took reasonably practical steps to prevent it happening.

There is also an implied term in all employment contracts that employers shall provide 'reasonable support' to an employee to ensure that the employee can carry out the duties of the job without harassment and disruption by other workers.

The law against sexual harassment protects you from your employer, colleagues and from third parties such as clients or customers.

What to do if you’re a victim of Sexual Harassment

Am I eligible to claim for Sexual Harassment?

Employment Tribunals treat sexual harassment cases very seriously and awards in such cases can be very high. An Employment Tribunal can decide to give you a separate award which is known as compensation for ‘injury to feelings’. This means you can receive compensation for any hurt, upset or distress you encountered as a result of sexual harassment you have suffered. This can be up to as much as £30,000.

Under the Equality Act, there is no minimum period of employment in order for you to be eligible to make a claim for sexual harassment but there are strict rules on when the claims have to be submitted.

Where possible, you should raise a formal grievance with your employer first to see if the issue can be handled and resolved internally. However, in some cases this can cause problems (especially if you’re being harassed by a senior employee/director or member of the HR staff) and it’s vital you seek expert legal advice as soon as possible.

How we can help

Our experts can help you to understand the law and set out your options clearly.

Our highly-skilled team regularly represent claimants who have suffered sexual harassment at work and they understand the difficulties that an employee can face when bringing such claims.

As specialists in employment law, they can help you to deal with your employer, negotiate resolutions, or if necessary, submit your claim to an Employment Tribunal.

Get in touch today if you think you have been subjected to sexual harassment. We ensure that your details are kept completely confidential and we’re completely committed to supporting you throughout the process.

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