Sexual harassment in the workplace is unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature which has the purpose or effect of:
You don’t need to have previously objected to someone’s behaviour for it to be considered unwanted. This applies to one-off incidents and ongoing incidents.
This protection comes from both employment law and criminal law, depending on the circumstances involved. Both men and women can be sexually harassed, although it is more common for it to happen to women. There is also protection if you have been treated less favourably because you have rejected or submitted to unwanted sexual conduct.
Sexual harassment at work includes:
Your employer should have a clear policy on sexual harassment which sets out what sort of behaviour is unacceptable.
Some types of sexual harassment, such as sexual assault and other physical threats, are a criminal matter as well as an employment matter. Criminal matters should be reported to the police by calling 999 if someone is in immediate danger, or 101 if the crime is not an emergency.
If you believe you have been sexually harassed, or have witnessed sexual harassment taking place, you need to raise a formal grievance about sexual harassment in the workplace.
If you need support to raise a grievance, ask your employer if they provide a confidential counselling service which will be attached to one of their insurance policies. Read Fiona Martin’s advice in the Independent here.
Check your organisation’s policies on sexual harassment at work to see who you should make your grievance to. If there is no policy, they will be required to follow the Acas Disiplinary and Grievance Code of Practice.
Our expert sexual harassment lawyers can help you raise a formal grievance by guiding you so that you provide the facts and we insert the law. We offer advice on redundancy and Settlement Agreements relating to sexual harassment in the workplace. If you have been dismissed or are being disciplined for rejecting any unwanted sexual content, then we can represent you at an Employment Tribunal.