Are you a victim of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?
Over recent weeks numerous stories of sexual harassment in the workplace have been reported in the news, often with very famous figures at the centre of the allegations.
This blog contains information to help employees suffering from sexual harassment in the workplace. However, I want to be very clear that this blog is not comprehensive advice. Depending on the circumstances of any particular case, additional measures such as referrals to the police, safeguarding, DBS etc… may well be appropriate and these measures are not detailed in this blog.
What is Sexual Harassment?
Section 26 of the Equality Act 2010 “the Act” provides a definition of harassment, for the full section see www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/section/26. For the purposes of this blog, I have elected only to summarise the main points relevant to sexual harassment.
- Harassment can include any unwanted conduct relating to sex which has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity or creating for them an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.
- Harassment can include unwanted conduct of a sexual nature which has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity or creating for them an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.
- Harassment can also occur when a person engages in unwanted conduct of a sexual nature or that is related to gender reassignment or sex which has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity or creating for them an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment AND because of a person’s rejection of or submission to the conduct, they are treated less favourably that they would have been if they had not rejected or submitted to the conduct.
What Can You Do?
- If asking the perpetrator to stop does not work, then in the first instance speak to your Line Manager to try and informally resolve the situation. If your Line Manager is involved, then elevate to the next available Manager. It may also be wise at this early opportunity to contact your trade union, your HR department, any internal wellbeing or counselling services, ACAS, the Citizens Advice Bureau or the Human Rights Commission for support in getting the situation resolved and the harassment stopped.
- If an informal approach does not work then review your employer’s formal policies and procedures to see if they have a Grievance Procedure, Dignity at Work Procedure or Bully & Harassment Procedure (or other). You should then follow the appropriate procedure which will usually require you to submit a written complaint about the treatment you are receiving, along with how you would like to see it resolving. Your employer should then investigate your complaint and provide a suitable outcome. Again, obtain support throughout this process from any of the sources listed under the preceding bullet point. Similarly, the solicitors at LincsLaw all have extensive experience of advising employees through internal processes such as these.
- If the formal approach does not work, you may seek redress in the Employment Tribunal by submitting a claim under the Equality Act 2010 for sexual harassment and / or victimisation. Please remember that internal policies or procedures may take some time to conclude, but a claim for sexual harassment or victimisation must be submitted to the Employment Tribunal no later than 3 months less 1 day from the date of the actual act complained of. Ensure you take appropriate legal advice so your limitation date is not missed.
Assistance From LincsLaw Solicitors?
Over the last 10 years I have assisted numerous clients suffering from sexual harassment at work. What I find alarmingly common is that clients fear they will not be believed. This is what makes carefully thought out and detailed submissions so important to a positive outcome. If you believe you have or are being subjected to sexual harassment, please do not hesitate to call me on 01522 440512, email ContactUs@lincslaw.com or visit our website at lincslaw.co.uk.
Specialist Employment Solicitor
LincsLaw Solicitors, Lincoln
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