Kate Brooks
Partner, Solicitor & Head of Employment/HR Services
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Date Published:01 Nov 2017 Last Updated:22 Oct 2021

What can you do about sexual harassment at work?

Employment Law Advice

Sexual Harassment?

If you have been made to feel humiliated, offended, and/or degraded at work because of for example; sexual advances, comments, jokes, emails of a sexual nature, flirtatious text messages, or emails with sexual connotations then you have been subject to sexual harassment in the workplace.

If you have been treated badly because you have refused a colleague’s sexual advances, then you have also been subject to sexual harassment in the workplace.

What should you do if you are subject to sexual harassment?

Employers are obliged at the very least to provide their employees with a way in which they can raise and have concerns at work dealt with fairly, as seen in the acas code of practice. It is also advisable for an employer to have a specific policy to deal with harassment in the workplace.

The starting point for employees, who believe they have been sexually harassed at work, is to utilise the employer’s internal process and raise a formal grievance about the treatment. This will give the employer the chance to investigate and put
things right. That being said, we understand that it is not always easy to make a formal complaint to your employer, and sometimes an employee will choose to go straight to the tribunal, even it they are still employed.

All employees who wish to pursue a claim in the employment tribunal must attempt acas early conciliation first. If this is unsuccessful, the employee will be given an acas early conciliation number. The employee can then use this number and lodge their claim in the employment tribunal. Such a claim must be lodged within 3 months, less a day of the last act of discrimination. These deadlines are really strict.

How much compensation could you get if you have been subject to sexual harassment?

If the tribunal finds in the employee’s favour, they can award unlimited compensation for loss of earnings associated with the harassment. The tribunal can also make an award associated with injury to feelings. This is not necessarily medical injury but could include for example damage to personal relationships, and loss of confidence.

If you are concerned about sexual harassment in the workplace please do not hesitate to contact our employment experts. Contact our head of department, Kate Brooks, via an email enquiry or call her on 01202 057754 for a confidential discussion about your options.