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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 48162
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I have been sexually harrassed at work, I only have a few

Customer Question

I have been sexually harrassed at work, I only have a few text messages as proof but there weren't any witnesses for the physical sexual gestures. My forms grievance result was upsetting. I was told that I could be seems as being flirtatious and could be misleading. The colleague who sexually harrassed me has only got a warning and I am still expected to see him on training and various meetings. I have been signed off with stress and depression due to work. The appeal process could take me over the 3 month time limit period too. Do I take this to a solicitor or not bother?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and I will be assisting you with your question today.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

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

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Worked there since Jan 2015. I don't feel I can go back to the company now. I feel judged. Comments started in June 2015 when I was in another role. Text messages are from May/June 2016 and physically touching began in June/July 2016. Scared to report due to colleagues age and he is very intimidating
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

OK, thank you for your response. I will review the relevant information and laws and will get back to you at the earliest opportunity. There is no need to wait here as you will receive an email when I have responded. Also, please do not responded to this message as it will just push your question to the back of the queue and you may experience unnecessary delays. Thank you.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

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.

This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the steps you need to take to progress this further, which I wish to discuss so please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far (by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars) and I can continue with that and answer any further questions you may have. Don’t worry, there is no extra cost and leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you

Ben Jones and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

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.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Okay, I don't think the criminal action would be needed but at least I know I have options if it continues. I am just really stressed about how my company handled the whole investigation. I've never had anyone from HR see me, been accused of being misleading and therefore the harassment is almost justified - there's no evidence of me being like this, I am always professional. Their response was also very stressful and they're expecting me to work with this man even though the text messages are proof of his behaviour? I don't feel I can go back to work. If I went down the constructive dismissal route would there be options to compensate me whilst I've been signed off? Thank you
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

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.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The person who sexually harrassed me was my buddy/mentor which was formed by the management company - would this be the employers actions which are discriminating?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Very difficult to say unfortunately, depends on whether they were actually representing the company and had the right to make decisions on its behalf