Poll finds that over half of women have been sexually harassed at work
In a recent poll of more than 1,500 women, more than half of those interviewed suggested that they have suffered sexual harassment in the work place. Harassment may include sexual assault, inappropriate comments, groping, sexual advances, and inappropriate jokes. The proportion of those women aged 16 to 24, reporting sexual harassment was a staggering 63%.
The poll tends to suggest that the issue of sexual harassment in the work place has not gone away. Four out of five women said that they did not report incidents to their employers, because they feared it would harm their relationships at work or that they would not be taken seriously. The TUC has described the poll as the biggest study of its kind for a generation. The TUC’s secretary, Francis O’Grady said: “How many times do we still hear that sexual harassment in the workplace is just a bit of “banter”?. Let’s be clear – sexual harassment is undermining, humiliating and can have a huge effect on mental health.”
The Government have said that “no one should experience harassment or abuse of any kind in the workplace – the law on this is very clear and employers must take swift action to tackle this issue.”
Employers can be found liable, for discrimination and acts of harassment by their employees. As well as the stigma of a Tribunal judgment, employers can also face large financial awards to victims. In order to avoid ending up in a Tribunal, employers need clear equality policies, and a zero tolerance approach to discrimination and harassment of any kind. Employers should provide all staff with regular training about equality issues, discrimination and harassment.
Employers should encourage employees to submit grievances, where appropriate. Any complaints of discrimination or harassment should always be taken seriously and investigated fully. Appropriate action should be taken against employees found guilty of discrimination or harassment.
Navigating complaints of discrimination and harassment can be difficult for employers. We are able to provide advice in relation to the specific issues, as well as to advise in respect of appropriate policies. We can also offer appropriate training for your staff.