UK Employment Solicitors -

Sexual Harassment Solicitors - Employment Tribunal Compensation Claim Advice

Behaviour and language that constitute sexual harassment are often regarded as subjective. It can be difficult for individuals to agree on what should or should not be deemed offensive. A commonly agreed upon definition of sexual harassment is "unwanted conduct based on sex affecting the dignity of women and men at work". If you are the recipient of such unwanted conduct, it is up to you to determine whether or not you believe sexual harassment has occurred; if you feel that it has, you should instruct a sexual harassment solicitor who can make an application to the Employment Tribunal on your behalf.

There is no specific statute that covers every facet or issue involved in sexual harassment however the Employment Tribunal uses the following legislation when making a ruling in sexual harassment cases:

  • Sex Discrimination Act 1975
  • Employment Rights Act 1996
  • EC Equal Treatment Directive 76/207

Just one severe incident, such as fondling or any inappropriate physical contact can be judged as a criminal offence and a violation of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. In most cases involving any type of assault, a sexual harassment solicitor will initiate both a civil claim in the County Court and make application for compensation to the Employment Tribunal.

What Is Sexual Harassment?

Unwanted touching, unwanted attention, vulgar jokes, forwarding of risqué items on email or texts are all obvious violations of ethical behaviour in the workplace and all rational persons would consider these to be sexual harassment.

Due to its subjective nature, sexual harassment can occur in many forms and is sometimes difficult to quantify. The following is a partial list of offences, often relied upon by sexual harassment solicitors, that have been deemed actionable by the Employment Tribunal :-

  • asking for sexual favours
  • suggestive gestures or remarks
  • acts or threats of sexual violence
  • fondling or other unwanted touching
  • inappropriate jokes
  • viewing pornographic websites
  • unwanted sexual advances
  • lewd or vulgar comments
  • sexual innuendoes
  • badgering for attention
  • displaying obscene or suggestive material

Subjective Test

Sexual harassment is subjective and it is the victim's interpretation of the conduct that matters. If you're being sexually harassed by superiors, an employer or co-workers then you are the one that needs to determine if the conduct involves offensive sexual overtures and if it is unwanted. If in your opinion, you have received inappropriate sexual comments or conduct then you should consider taking advice from a sexual harassment solicitor who can negotiate with your employer on your behalf. If that fails you can apply to the Employment Tribunal for settlement.

Protection Of Privacy

The Employment Tribunal, though usually a public forum, may in some cases protect the identity of the claimant. For especially graphic claims, the Tribunal may issue a "restricted reporting order" to protect the anonymity of the person filing the claim.

Employers Responsibility

It is ultimately the responsibility of the employer to protect their workers from undesirable behaviour in the workplace or at work related activities. Unless an employer can show they took all appropriate and reasonable measures to preclude the harassment, they will be held liable to pay compensation.

An employer may be held responsible for sexual harassment of one employee by another employee if there is a failure to take action after receipt of a complaint. It is illegal for an employer to ignore a complaint and every employer is required by law to have a policy, which must be brought to the attention of all employees, offering guidance on how to deal with these illegal acts. There is no limit to the amount of compensation that can be awarded in discrimination cases and the Employment Tribunal can make a substantial award for aggravated damages if the behaviour has been particularly offensive.

It is required by law that every employer implement a company policy and inform all employees of this policy in regard to workplace sexual harassment. The policy should include an explanation of the proper procedures for handling suspected sexual harassment. Employers may be held responsible for any harassment committed by their employees in the workplace, even if they themselves are not the offending party, or if they do not take appropriate action against an employee accused of sexual harassment.

Equal Opportunities Commission

The Equal Opportunities Commission is helpful in clarifying the sexual harassment regulations to employers. These are some of their suggestions :-

  • implement a clear, comprehensive sexual harassment policy
  • continue to monitor and update the policy to ensure that it remains effective
  • be sure that everyone in the workplace is aware of the policy and thoroughly understands it
  • take complaints of sexual harassment seriously and be sensitive to the serious impact it can have on the victim
  • lead by example and hold supervisors and managers personally responsible

Sexual Harassment Solicitors

To receive a free consultation with no further obligation from one of our sexual harassment solicitors just call the helpline or email our offices.