Sexual Harassment In The Work Place

Sexual Harassment In The Work Place

05 January 2018

Sexual harassment in the work place seems to have dominated the news and social media in recent months with worrying revelations of sexual harassment by those in very powerful positions. It’s not just in areas like film production and television news or politics that there seems to be a problem however.

Unfortunately, harassment in the workplace is more common than many of us like to think. That’s why having the right policies and training in place for your company will not only protect your employees but also demonstrate that you’ve done everything possible should a case of inappropriate behaviour go to tribunal in the future.

Sexual Harassment In The Work Place

Sexual Harassment In The Work Place

The problem was highlighted recently by the case of a female lawyer who was sexually harassed by the boss of her firm. Asghar Ali made provocative comments to Sunna Majid, practically from the moment he met her at interview, on one occasion suggesting that he was going to have a bed installed in one of the office rooms when she had joined the firm.

Majid politely refused Mr Ali’s advances but she was made redundant when she told her new boss that she already had a boyfriend.

At a recent tribunal, the law firm were told to pay Ms Majid £20,000 in compensation. It led to an appeal because of the size of the compensation but that was turned down, the judge commenting that Ms Majid deserved every penny. Key to the decision was that the respondent, in this case Ali, had ‘violated the Claimant’s dignity as a worker’ according to the tribunal.

While this case highlights the issue of a boss who uses his power to undermine and harass an employee, sexual harassment can occur in a wide variety of situations across any organisation. It could involve a manager and an employee rather than the boss of the company.

Without the right processes in place, employees who are being harassed can find themselves isolated and have nowhere to report or complain if they want to make a particular behaviour stop. Culture within a business can often be such that it actively promotes this kind of problem, even where the people perpetrating the harassment see it as nothing special or wrong. Indeed, it can often be passed off as ‘harmless fun’, banter or a moment of indiscretion on someone’s part.

In the light of recent revelations of sexual harassment that have made the news, there have been renewed calls for all business to make sure they have policies and procedures in place which protect individuals. No one should have to work in an environment where they are being harassed or indeed have their career impacted because they refuse to play along with a particular perpetrator, however powerful they are.

A recent survey by the Telegraph showed that about 1 in 5 females have been harassed at work, while another poll by the BBC suggests half of women had been subjected to some form of harassment.

For businesses, this presents a major issue that has long been swept under the carpet. Harassment is discriminatory and if an employee feels they have been discriminated against they are likely to take their claim to a tribunal, especially now as the Fee to do has been scrapped. Businesses, therefore, need to make sure they have all the right procedures and policies in place to both effect change and ensure harassment doesn’t occur. And, if it does, something can be done about it.

That includes giving those subjected to the harassment an easy way to make their complaint, get real support and reach a solution without fear of losing their job or being further harassed. It also means educating people in the workplace on the consequences that sexual harassment brings.

One of the key preventative measures is to ensure all people managers within the business are trained to identify sexual harassment, how to deal with complaints of sexual harassment and how to avoid the circumstances in the first place.

Perhaps we’ve reached a tipping point when it comes to this sort of behaviour. Only time will tell. For the moment, the ball is in the boss’s court.

If you need assistance ensuring you have the right policies and procedures in place to ensure both the company and your employees are protected, then get it solved! Contact us on 07714 790024 or email