Despite a number of laws in place to protect workers in an organisation, unreported sexual harassment is a regular occurence. How do you know if you have been sexually harassed and what you must do if you think you are being sexually harassed at work. Is there anyone you can turn to for help?
What is sexual harassment?
Any kind of behaviour, which is sexual in nature and not welcomed by the person on the receiving end of it can be referred as sexual harassment. The harassment can be verbal, physical as well as non-verbal.
If you find someone at your workplace making comments about your appearance, what you are wearing or your body can be deemed as sexual harassment. Any kind of remarks, comments or questions about your sexual life, orientation or demanding sexual favours are absolutely unacceptable, even if they were intended as a joke.
Non-verbal sexual harassment is another form of harassment commonly faced at workplaces and often goes unreported. It includes a colleague staring at a part of your body, sexting, sending you emails of indecent pictures which are sexual or sexually suggestive. This can include calendars displaying naked men or women.
Physical sexual harassment occurs if a colleague tries to make any sort of physical contact with you, assaults you or tries to rape you.
You should only confront the abuser if you feel safe and comfortable in doing so. If you feel you think you need someone to support you, you can ask a colleague or a representative of trade union to accompany you so that you feel more confident. It is important to make it clear that you want the said behaviour to be stopped on immediate basis. Once you have said what you need to, you can walk away.
If on the other hand, you don’t want to confront the harasser, you can put your feelings in writing. You can write a letter or an email and make it clear that if the behaviour does not cease, you will be taking matters further through your line manager.
Keep a record of behaviours that you find are unacceptable. Note down the times, locations as well as dates when this behaviour happened and whether there were any witnesses to the same. This is an important information if you later need to make the complaint official – whether at work or police.
If you file a complaint, your employer is legally obliged to carry on an investigation and take adequate measures to deal with the same. It is important that you keep a legal record of what happens during the discussion meetings that you have with your employer. You must also take someone with you to these meetings.
If the abuser still continues to harass you even after the actions have been taken, you can take the matters further to employment tribunal. It is also suggested that at this time you seek the advice of a specialist.
It is the legal right of every employee to be able to work in an environment that is safe and secure for them. One should not feel threatened in any way by actions or behaviour of a colleague.
Our Employment Law Solicitors can assist with all types of claims. Naturally, we pride ourselves on providing the best possible service to the highest standards, we can provide free employment law advice on all problems.
Call us on 0800 756 6605 or 020 3923 4777
Tom Street qualified as a solicitor in 2003 and has over 20 years experience in employment and litigation law. He studied law at the University of Manchester before undertaking the legal practice course at the College of Law in Guildford, going on to complete his legal training at a firm in Chancery Lane, London. Once fully qualified, he moved to a niche litigation practice in the City of London.
In 2010, Tom set up his own legal practice, Tom Street & Co Solicitors and as part of this, in accordance with his strongly held objective to provide everyone with an easy pathway to justice he established the online portals Do I Have A Case? and Tribunal Claim. These websites are trading names of Tom Street & Co Solicitors.