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Please can you tell me how long have you worked there for and how long this has been going on for? Please do also tell me what your ideal outcome would be in this situation? Thank you
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Many thanks for your patience. Sexual harassment at work is a form of discrimination which is unlawful. The issue is proving what actually happened, because often there would be no independent witnesses and it would be your word against the harasser’s. So it does mean that making a claim can be risky because a court or tribunal may not accept your version of the story.
In any event, under general employment principles and health and safety regulations the employer has to look after your welfare and safety at work. If they know that there are issues which pose a risk to these and have failed to adequately deal with them, it could amount to a breach of trust and confidence. This could allow you to potentially resign and claim constructive dismissal.
An alternative way out is to approach the employer on a 'without prejudice' basis (i.e. off the record) to try and discuss the possibility of leaving under a settlement agreement. Under a settlement agreement, the employee gets compensated for leaving the company and in return promises not to make any claims against the employer in the future. It is essentially a clean break, although the employer does not have to agree to it so it will be subject to negotiation. In any event, there is nothing to lose by raising this possibility with them because you cannot be treated detrimentally for suggesting it and it would not be used against you.
If your suggestion is rejected and there is no apparent resolution on the horizon, you could consider taking action for harassment against the individual. You can do this either as a sexual discrimination claim in the employment tribunal or a harassment claim in the county court.
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Thank you. As mentioned this conduct could potentially amount to harassment, which could be both a civil matter and a criminal one. The law states that a person must not pursue a course of conduct which amounts to harassment of another and which he or she knows or ought to know amounts to harassment. Although there is no definition of what specifically amounts to harassment, it would usually include alarming a person or causing them distress and must have occurred on at least two occasions.
Under criminal law, and if this is reported to the police who then take action, the punishment for harassment can be imprisonment and/or a fine. A court may also impose a restraining order for the purpose of protecting the victim.
In addition to criminal action, a civil claim can also be brought against a person who is alleged to be guilty of causing harassment. The courts would award compensation to the victim, something that is unlikely to happen if this is pursued as a criminal issue.
So in the first instance the police can be contacted and this matter reported to them as harassment. However, they will not often get involved in trivial disputes so if they believe that this is not serious enough they could refuse to help and advise you that this is a civil matter. In such circumstances, the victim can warn the harasser that their actions are being treated as harassment and that unless they refrain from such behaviour in the future they will be reported to the police and legal action under harassment legislation taken against them.
Thinking about it a bit more I am not confident constructive dismissal would be an option. You need 2 years service to be able to claim and whilst you do not need that if you are forced to resign due to discrimination, it has to be the employer’s actions which are discriminatory. So unless the person in question was part of management, i.e. representing the company, constructive dismissal may not be an option. If you did claim however, you will be compensated for the time going forward, i.e. the loss of earnings you have incurred from being forced to resign and you will have a duty to try and find a new job ASAP to reduce these losses.
Very difficult to say unfortunately, depends on whether they were actually representing the company and had the right to make decisions on its behalf