Employment discrimination laws help protect workers from harassment or being dismissed from employment based on many factors including sex, race, religious preference, disability, age, and sexual orientation.
Sexual harassment is included in discrimination laws under the Equality Act of 2010.
What Is Sexual Harassment?
By law, sexual harassment takes place when unwanted behaviours you find offensive, intimidating, or humiliating take place and they are of a sexual nature. The behaviours don’t have to be previously objected to for them to be unwanted. Some of the actions considered to be sexual harassment include:
- Comments or jokes of a sexual nature.
- Physical contact such as touching, unwanted advances, and different types of sexual assault.
- Photographs, images, or drawings of a sexual nature being displayed.
- Emails containing sexual content.
Since sexual harassment is illegal, if it happens, you may be able to take your employer or coworker to civil court.
Intent of Actions
The intent of the behaviour exhibited by the harasser is considered by the courts because, by law, it can only be sexual harassment if it was intended to:
- Violate someone’s dignity.
- Create an intimidating, hostile, humiliating, degrading, or offensive environment.
Sexual harassment doesn’t only happen in the workplace. If you’re harassed in another environment, it could still be considered unlawful if the above intentions were met. If you tell the harasser to stop his or her behaviour and it continues, you need to report it to an employer. If the harasser is your supervisor or another manager, follow your company’s directives and report it to another manager or the Human Resources department.
Keep Records of Incidents
Always keep track of what happened, when it happened, and who committed the harassing behaviour. This information will be important if you decide to hire one of the employment law solicitors in Dorking to take your case to the Employment Tribunal. Knowing the dates when the incidents occurred is especially important because you only have three months from the time an incident happens to file a complaint with the tribunal.
If you report an incident of harassment to your employer, especially against a supervisor, and they retaliate against you, their reaction is also considered harassment. Under the Equality Act, you may be able to file a claim against the person treating you badly even though he or she may not be your harasser. For instance, if you reported a supervisor for sexual harassment and a coworker starts treating you badly, you may be able to file a claim against him or her as well.
Even if the harasser isn’t a supervisor or employer, the employer can still be held accountable for their employee’s actions. Employees are supposed to be trained to prevent harassing behaviours, so if they commit them, then a solicitor may evaluate the training and file a claim against the employer.
Even though filing claims against an employer can be expensive, if they are found to have any responsibility in the harassing behaviours, your reward could be significant. Don’t hesitate to report sexual harassment and seek a solicitor if necessary.