Sexual harassment at work continues to be a problem in many places. The Trades Union Congress following their survey of 1,533 women has revealed that 52% of the women have been sexually harassed at some point whilst at work. The question is then raised, why behaviour of this nature has continued to such an extent? The figures are undoubtedly worrying and one may conclude that employers should do more to protect their employees. However, research shows that 79% of victims have failed to report incidents of sexual harassment or the perpetrator to management.
So can employers be held liable for breach of the Equality Act 2010 in circumstances where the events have been outside of their knowledge? There isn’t a straight forward answer to this – it will depend on the individual circumstances of each case. It would certainly be more helpful if victims actively reported incidents to their employer.
If, as an employee, you consider the behaviour of a colleague/manager to be inappropriate, you should consider doing the following:-
- ask the perpetrator to stop – they may not realise that their behaviour is inappropriate;
- inform your line manager – if the perpetrator is the line manager, inform someone else;
- follow up an informal complaint into formal written complaint (keep a record);
- keep a diary entry of incidents with details of any witnesses;
- contact your Trade Union, and
- contact a solicitor.
If you are an employee and have been a victim of sexual harassment at work or are aware of colleagues who have been in this position and require advice on how the matter can be dealt with, please contact our employment team at CH Legal on 0161 745 9170.