Sexual harassment is ‘unwanted conduct of a sexual nature which has the purpose of violating the dignity of a worker, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them.’
This includes individuals treated less favourably because they rejected or submitted to unwanted sexual conduct.
Sexual harassment is not always men sexually harassing women and claims can be made where men have been sexually harassed, not only by women, but also by other men.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission carried out a sexual harassment survey in 2018 and have recommended sensible and important steps employers can take to ensure that their workplace is safe.
These include recommendations about the breadth and visibility of your organisation’s stance on sexual harassment.
Making all this information public will facilitate sharing of best practice and encourage other employers who are falling behind to improve their practices.
If a complaint is reported to police, or criminal court proceedings are being pursued, your organisation must still investigate the complaint as an employment matter. You will need to follow your organisation’s disciplinary procedure, without awaiting the outcome of criminal proceedings, provided this can be done fairly.
If one of your workers or contractors reports that they have been sexually harassed by someone in your organisation, you need to take immediate action to minimise any potential claims for sexual harassment. We can provide HR consultants to investigate and to assist you in holding an internal grievance and/or disciplinary hearing to avoid expensive sex discrimination claims against your company.