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It seems as though we can’t go one day now without seeing a new allegation of sexual harassment pop up. Whether it’s a new celebrity being accused of rape, or more questionable allegations like those being made against comedian Aziz Anasari after what might have just been a bad date – it’s the topic at the front of everyone’s mind. So as an employer, it’s time to take a look at your business and ask yourself – are you a scandal waiting to happen?

Warning Signs

It’s not always easy to discern innocent workplace behaviour from sexual harassment, and in fact that’s one of the main reasons it often goes unnoticed until it’s too late. But as an employer, it’s your job to make sure your employees are working in a safe and respectful environment. That means knowing the warning signs of sexual harassment, so you can catch it before it has a chance to become a major problem.

Sexist Behaviour

Sexist behaviour, whether it’s as simple as referring to a colleague as “sweetheart” or as offensive as a crude joke made at the opposite sex’s expense, can sometimes signal a larger issue is going on. These seemingly harmless behaviours are actually quite the opposite, and legally speaking all fall under the sexual harassment umbrella. They make employees uncomfortable and contribute to a hostile work environment that’s damaging to individual and overall employee well-being.

Quid Pro Quo Behaviour

Quid pro quo is the Latin phrase meaning “something for something.” In the case of sexual harassment, this can occur when an employee uses their position – often one of superiority or authority – to coerce an employee into doing something they don’t want to do. It can be as subtle as a manager asking an employee to dinner and using the upcoming performance reviews as bait, or as overt as attempting to force sexual favours in return for a promotion.

Sexually Oriented Behaviour

Co-worker relationships play a crucial role in overall employee well-being. And while employees should be encouraged to open up to colleagues and occasionally talk about things unrelated to work, there’s a fine line between appropriate and inappropriate conversation. Telling a co-worker you went on a date last night, for instance, is harmless talk. Telling that co-worker what happened after the date in graphic detail, however, can be cause for concern. After all, sexual harassment isn’t always directed at a particular employee.

The key to preventing sexual harassment in the workplace is spotting all of the little warning signs before they have a chance to escalate. At Herefords Solicitors, we work with business owners across the UK to help them understand their workplace culture, and put measures in place to prevent sexual harassment and keep their employees happy. For more information, or to book your free consultation with one of our experts, just get in touch today.

Zahir Mohammed
Employment Solicitor
0203 669 2216