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Martin Searle Solicitors

FAQs: Sexual Harassment in the Workplace for Employees

Our expert Employment lawyers address common questions from Employees about Sexual Harassment in the workplace.
  1. Who is protected by sexual harassment laws?
  2. What should I do if I am being sexually harassed?
  3. Does the person sexually harassing me have to intend to harass?
  4. What should I expect my employer to do if I report that I have been sexually harassed at work?
  5. What happens if I am treated badly as a result of complaining about sexual harassment?

Who is protected by sexual harassment laws?

Workers can be sexually harassed by people of the same sex or the opposite sex.

Sexual harassment can be carried out by anyone, including:

  • someone in the same team
  • a supervisor or manager
  • another member of staff
  • someone else that a worker comes into contact with while they are working, such as a customer or supplier.

What should I do if I am being sexually harassed?

Any employee who feels they have been sexually harassed, or any worker who has witnessed an incident of sexual harassment, can make a complaint to their employer.

Your employer should have an Equal Opportunities / Sexual Harassment policy, which should include information on how to bring a complaint of sexual harassment at work.

You may also have grounds to bring a legal claim of harassment against the person responsible. Whilst it is often better to bring your concerns to your manager or HR department, if this does not result in a remedy that you are satisfied with, you can seek legal advice as to where you stand and the feasibility of bringing a claim.

Does the person sexually harassing me have to intend to harass?

Behaviour can still be considered sexual harassment even if the alleged harasser did not intend for it to be. It also doesn’t have to be intentionally directed at a specific person.

Some forms of sexual harassment, including sexual assault and the making of physical threats, are a criminal matter as well as being an employment issue. Criminal matters can be reported to the police, although an employer still has a duty to investigate the complaint as an employment matter once it has been reported.

What should I expect my employer to do if I report that I have been sexually harassed at work?

Your employer should initiate a full investigation and treat you with empathy and respect. They should ask you to be specific about the dates and everything that happened. If your employer is unwilling to take your complaint seriously, you should raise a formal grievance. This will mean that they have to arrange a meeting where someone more senior than the alleged perpetrator will listen to your grievances. They have to respond in writing as to whether they uphold your grievances or not. You have the right to be accompanied and the right to appeal any decision.

What happens if I am treated badly as a result of complaining about sexual harassment?

If you are treated badly or less favourably as a result of reporting sexual harassment, whether this is by the person who harassed you or another employee, this is called victimisation. This is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010. You should raise a formal grievance so that this can be investigated.

Our team of Employment Law Solicitors can provide expert advice on Sexual Harassment in the Workplace. Contact us today on 01273 609911, or email info@ms-solicitors.co.uk.

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