With the recent Hollywood demonstrations of solidarity with victims of sexual harassment and this weeks Women’s March highlighting the matter. We thought it would be a good opportunity for our clients to assess their own workplace environments.
Many of our clients and workplaces are still reporting incidents of sexual harassment currently. It appears these problems are just as rife as ever- They may just be better hidden now.
There is legislation in place to prevent both men and women suffering from this type of harassment and discrimination in the workplace and as an employer you have an obligation to take all reasonable steps to prevent this type of behaviour and ensure your employees have a safe working environment. You should therefore take complaints very seriously and be proactive in encouraging a positive workplace by implementing an Equal Opportunities Policy and training for all staff for example. This includes encouraging individuals who you may believe have been targeted to speak up and make complaints even if they haven’t yet done so.
Sexual harassment is unwanted behaviour of a sexual act which is defined as an act which-
• violates your dignity
• makes you feel intimidated, degraded or humiliated
• creates a hostile or offensive environment
Example of types of behaviour could therefore be sexual comments or jokes, physical behaviour, including unwelcome sexual advances, touching and various forms of sexual assault, displaying pictures, photos or drawings of a sexual nature or sending emails with a sexual content for example.
There is an attempt in the legislation to balance the types of behaviour that may be considered sexual harassment with just banter and actual acts that violate dignity. You have obligations to both the employee making the complaint and the employee who has been complained about as clearly these are difficult allegations to face. Complaints therefore have to be investigated in great details so our clients should contact us for assistance with this process.
In remembrance of Stephanie Strachan 1990-2020