What is Sexual Harassment in the workplace? This blog will explain to you what Sexual Harassment is and how to raise concerns if you experience Sexual Harassment at work.
Sexual Harassment and The Equality Act 2010
The Equality Act 2010, prohibits three types of harassment:
- Harassment related to a protect characteristic, i.e., harassment on the grounds of your sex, race, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation etc;
- Sexual Harassment;
- Less favourable treatment because the employee rejects or submits to unwanted conduct of a sexual nature.
What is Sexual Harassment?
This blog explains what Sexual Harassment is in the workplace. There is a legal definition for Sexual Harassment. The definition is as follows:
Sexual Harassment occurs where both:
- A engages in unwanted conduct of a sexual nature; and
- The conduct has the purpose or effect of either violating B’s dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for B.
What Does This Mean?
It means anyone can be sexually harassed by someone of the same or a different sex to them. Sexual Harassment will occur when there is unwanted conduct which has had the effect of violating a person’s dignity. To explain:
What Is Unwanted Conduct?
Unwanted conduct of a sexual nature essentially means ‘unwelcome’ or ‘uninvited’. This means any unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct which is of a sexual nature. Additionally:
- It does not mean there has to be an express objection to the conduct.
- A single incident can be enough.
- There is no need to have already made it clear that the conduct is unwanted.
- Sexual conduct that may have been welcomed in the past can still become unwanted.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (“The EHRC”) gives examples of what unwanted conduct could be:
- Sexual comments or jokes.
- Displaying sexually graphic pictures, posters or photos.
- Suggestive looks, staring or leering.
- Propositions and sexual advances.
- Making promises in return for sexual favours.
- Sexual gestures.
- Intrusive questions about a person’s private or sex life, or a person discussing their own sex life.
- Sexual posts or contact on social media.
- Spreading sexual rumours about a person.
- Sending sexually explicit emails or text messages.
- Unwelcome touching, hugging, massaging or kissing.
What Is The Purpose Or Effect?
The purpose or effect is where unwanted conduct is shown to have had the purpose of violating a person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. To ascertain whether the conduct had this effect the following will be taken into account:
- The person’s perception.
- The other circumstances of the case.
- Whether it is reasonable for the conduct to have that effect.
What Should You Do?
If you have experienced Sexual Harassment at work, your employer can be liable for any Sexual Harassment committed by their employees, regardless of whether their employee’s act/s were done with or without their knowledge.
If you find yourself in this situation, my advice would be to submit a Formal Grievance immediately.
What Is A Formal Grievance?
A Formal Grievance is an employee led concern. Ideally, it is set out in writing and it should clearly address what your concerns are. Once your Formal Grievance is submitted, your employer should investigate the concerns you have raised and try to resolve these with you. I have previously written a blog titled “How to Raise a Formal Grievance” which sets out the steps to follow. You can read this blog by clicking on the following link; https://lincslaw.co.uk/blog/how-to-raise-a-formal-grievance/
How Can Lincs Law Help You?
If you are experiencing Sexual Harassment at work, please telephone us for a free, no obligation enquiry. Simply use the contact form, engage in a web chat, email email@example.com or call us on 01522 440512 and we’ll be happy to help.