What amounts to sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is unwanted conduct of a sexual nature which:

  • violates your dignity;
  • makes you feel intimidated, degraded or humiliated;
  • Creates a hostile or offensive environment.

Who can be a victim of sexual harassment?

Men and women. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex. The victim does not have to be the person directly harassed, but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.

Do you have to have already made it clear to the harasser that the conduct is unwanted for it to amount to sexual harassment?

Express objection does not have to be made to the conduct before it is deemed to be unwanted. A single incident can be enough to constitute harassment. The individual may have consented to the sexual activity due to perceived or actual pressure from the harasser.

Does the sexual harassment have to happen in the workplace?

Sexual harassment does not have to happen in the workplace. It can occur in almost every employment situation and relationship related to work. For example, it could occur in a social event such as at a Christmas party organised by your employer, at a client’s premises, at training events, during work-related travel and business lunches.

How long do I need to be employed before I can bring a sexual harassment claim?

There is no minimum length of service needed.

How long do I have to make a sexual harassment claim?

There is a very short limitation period for you to make a sexual harassment claim against your employer. If you miss it you could end up without redress in an employment tribunal. You only have three months from the date of the sexual harassment or from the last episode.

What do I need to do before bringing a claim to the Employment Tribunal?

You will need to complete the ACAS Early Conciliation process before bringing your claim to an Employment Tribunal. The three month time limit is paused while you go through the Early Conciliation process.

What should I do if I witness sexual harassment in the workplace?

If you witness sexual harassment occurring at the workplace, you should inform your employer.

Why should employers have a sexual harassment policy?

Employers should have an effective anti-harassment policy which clearly sets out the types of conduct that is unacceptable. This will support the creation of an effective, productive and healthy working environment.

How can employers prevent sexual harassment?

The key to preventing sexual harassment is for employers to create a zero-tolerance to harassment culture in the workplace making to clear to all workers and those who interact with the workplace that sexual harassment is unacceptable behaviour.

What steps can employers take regarding sexual harassment?

  • Train all staff regularly on anti-harassment.
  • Have effective reporting mechanism in place and encourage employees to report inappropriate behaviour.
  • Explain the process that will be followed and the support available for victims of harassment.
  • Ensure complaints are dealt with quickly and in a sensitive manner and that those who report the harassment are protected from victimisation.

If you are an employee and have been sexually harassed at work, it is important to seek advice immediately. We are here when you need us, if you would like to discuss your concerns and advice on your rights and your employer’s obligations.

If you are an employer, we are here when you need us if you would like to discuss a potential claim or require advice on preventing sexual harassment claims in the workplace.

Call us on 0113 284 5000 or email employment@isonharrison.co.uk

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