Unfortunately, women are victims to sexual harassment inside the workplace more times than most people would like to imagine. An unbelievable 35% of women will experience some form of sexual harassment during their careers.
What is Sexual Harassment?
It can sometimes difficult to determine what is classed as harassment, and what is just an uncomfortable or intimidating situation for you.
Sexual harassment encompasses any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. It can include the following.
- Unwanted conversations about sex
- Being followed around
- Sexist comments
- Vulgar language
- Unwanted touching or direct contact
- Sexual threats
- Sexual assault or rape
Steps to Take if You Are Sexually Harassed
If you are a victim of sexual harassment whilst at work, there are a number of steps you should take.
1Show That It’s Unwelcome
If somebody is making you feel uncomfortable, make sure you let them know. Make it very obvious that their comments or actions are unwelcome. If their behaviour continues after you have clearly stated your feelings, you may have to escalate the issue to management or bring in legal help.
2Speak to Management
When another employee, a client, or a customer is making you feel uncomfortable through sexually orientated comments or behaviours, try speaking to your manager.
Explain what has happened and how you feel. Management will then be able to speak to the perpetrator and take any necessary action.
Under the Equality Act, your employer is liable for their employee’s behaviour both inside and outside of the workplace, and they are and they are responsible for stopping harassment. Employers should have an anti-harassment policy that is followed if and when an employee makes a complaint. If they fail to take necessary action, they could get in legal trouble.
It’s always a good idea to document everything that has happened to you, as well as every complaint you’ve made and every conversation you have had with management about the situation. This makes it easier to put together a timeline of events. If you choose to contact a lawyer or the police, having everything well recorded will help you build a strong case against the perpetrator.
4Find a Lawyer
If speaking to management has been futile, you may need to bring in legal help. Find a sexual harassment lawyer who will be able to work closely with you to file a claim. You may be entitled to compensation for the experiences you have had.
5Claim in the Employment Tribunal
If you feel that you need to escalate the complaint further, you can take it up in the Employment Tribunal. All Tribunal claims need to be filed within three months of the last act of harassment, another reason why documenting everything is key. The Tribunal will assess each case individually and come to a conclusion. If your claim is successful, you may get compensation.