It has been reported recently that almost two in three young women have experienced sexual harassment at work, and 52% of all women have suffered sexual harassment at some point in their working lives.
A lot of employers don’t realise that they are responsible for paying compensation to employees who make claims for such harassment, even if it was undertaken by junior employees without the employers knowledge. There have been a number of recent cases where harassment has taken place outside of working hours at events such as a works Christmas party or after work drinks, and the employer has still been liable for the claim. The Equality Act 2010 clearly states that any harassment undertaken by one employee upon another in the course of their employment is treated as having been done by the employer, regardless of whether the employee’s acts were done with the employer’s knowledge or approval.
To successfully defend a sexual harassment claim an employer has to prove that they took all reasonable steps to prevent harassment from occurring. Steps to assist include:
- Make an equal opportunities policy and ensure it is clear that harassment will not be tolerated
- Ensure staff are aware of relevant policies
- Take disciplinary action where appropriate and deal with complaints of sexual harassment fairly
- Ensure all management staff are trained in equal opportunities and harassment issues
Many employers do not provide equal opportunities to their staff, therefore it can be difficult for them to defend a claim that is brought against them. The compensation for sexual harassment is unlimited and can run into many thousands of pounds.
For further advice on sexual harassment in the workplace please contact one of our specialist employment solicitors who will be able to advise and assist you. To speak to an experienced employment law solicitor today, call 0845 287 0939 or complete an online enquiry form.