Employment Lawyers in London
What sexual harassment is
Sexual harassment is unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature.
It can happen to men, women and people of any gender or sexual orientation. It can be carried out by anyone of the same sex, opposite sex or anyone of any gender identity.
Employees or workers could experience sexual harassment from anyone they come into contact with because of their job, including:
- someone they work with
- a customer, contractor, client or member of the public
- a manager, supervisor or someone else in a position of authority
- someone high profile or influential
It can still count as sexual harassment even if the person did not mean it to be. The effect of the behaviour is what matters.
Examples of sexual harassment
Sexual harassment can be a one-off incident or an ongoing pattern of behaviour.
It can include:
- flirting, gesturing or making sexual remarks about someone’s body, clothing or appearance
- asking questions about someone’s sex life
- telling sexually offensive jokes
- emailing, texting or messaging sexual content
- displaying pornographic or sexual images on posters, calendars and cards
- having pornographic or sexual images on computers and phones
- sexual assault or rape
- touching someone against their will, for example hugging them
What some people might consider as joking, ‘banter’ or part of their workplace culture can still be sexual harassment if the behaviour is of a sexual nature and it’s unwanted.
The law on harassment
Harassment includes bullying because of certain ‘protected characteristics’ and is against the law.
Sex is one of the protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010 >>.
The law also protects employees and workers against sexual harassment.
Who is responsible
Anyone who sexually harasses someone at work is responsible for their own actions.
Employers can be responsible too – this is called ‘vicarious liability’. They must do everything they reasonably can to make sure their employees and workers are protected from sexual harassment.
If you’ve been sexually harassed at work
If you’ve experienced sexual harassment at work, you can make a complaint to your employer.
Your employer should:
- take your complaint very seriously
- handle it fairly and sensitively
What you can do
It can be easier to start by talking with your employer or someone senior at work to try and resolve the problem >>.
If you do not feel comfortable doing this or the issue is particularly serious, you can raise a formal grievance >>.
You can also look at your workplace’s policy on discrimination and harassment, if there is one. This should say how your employer handles discrimination and harassment complaints.
The policy may also tell you who to send your complaint to, for example someone at your workplace with specialist training. You should also tell your local trade union representative, if you have one.
It’s a good idea to make notes before you talk to someone, especially if talking about the experience is particularly distressing.
Your employer must allow you to be accompanied by someone you work with or a trade union representative at a grievance hearing. They might let you bring a friend or family member.
If you make a complaint a long time after an incident took place, your employer should still take it seriously.
If you believe you have been subjected to harassment please contact our specialist employment solicitors for a confidential and no obligation discussion on
0203 669 2216 or email firstname.lastname@example.org