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Harassment occurs when there is unwanted conduct which results in dignity being violated or where a person feels intimidated, degraded, offended or humiliated.
There should be a zero tolerance approach to sexual harassment in the workplace.
Examples of conduct which could constitute sexual harassment include kissing, hugging, touching, displaying offensive images and making inappropriate comments.
We understand the challenges faced by victims of sexual harassment and their concerns about speaking out fearing retaliation and victimisation. We know that taking on a case against a senior colleague where there has been an abuse of power can be very daunting.
We are experts in this area of employment law and we can assist you to tackle sexual harassment and to bring about cultural change in a sexist working environment.
Whilst we recognise the challenges, the first step in tackling harassment at work could be to raise the matter internally and exhaust internal processes first.
It may be more appropriate to raise the matter with the Human Resources department or at a senior level of management where the complaint is about a line manager.
We recommend seeking early employment law advice about making a grievance and to consider all options including a potential constructive dismissal. We can give you a clear strategy, increasing the chances of a successful outcome either through pursuing a claim in the Employment Tribunal or reaching a settlement with your employer.
No company is above the law. Employers are taking complaints about sexual harassment more seriously in the post #metoo era. Concerns about publicity and reputational damage for companies where sexual harassment is tolerated is real.
Harassment by colleagues in the course of employment is treated as also having been done by the employer. Often claims are brought against the employer and a named individual who has harassed another.
In this situation, employers need to show that they took all reasonable steps to prevent the harassment.
This is a concern often voiced by our employee clients. However, from a legal point of view, speaking out about discrimination can offer protection. If you have complained about harassment you are then protected against victimisation which is another type of discrimination if you suffer some form of retaliation for making the complaint.
This could cover any sort of action by the employer including a demotion or dismissal, for example.
You can make a claim for harassment even if the incident took place outside of the workplace at a work-related social event, for example, an office party.
The law interprets the workplace in this type of situation in a fairly wide context. If events take place in the course of employment the same rules could apply as in the workplace itself.
Witnesses can be helpful as can a note which details the incident as this could become important evidence should you decide to take the claim to the Employment Tribunal.
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