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Sexual Harassment and Your Rights

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 26 Sep 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Sexual Harassment Discrimination

When it comes to sexual harassment and your rights there are laws set out that guarantee protection from this abuse of power. New legislation came into place in 2005 that tightened up the law on sexual harassment in the workplace.

Definition of Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is any type of unwanted contact of a sexual nature. This harassment can occur either physically or verbally. Physical sexual harassment can mean unwanted touching, hugging and cases of rape. Verbal sexual harassment can include questions about your sex life, comments on the way you look or lewd comments. However, sexual harassment can also take the form of discrimination such as an employer discriminating against an employee because of their gender.

Sexual Harassment and Assault

There are some types of sexual harassment that are serious enough to warrant police investigation. If the harassment took place outside of the workplace then taking the complaint to the police will be necessary. The harassment case should then be investigated and the matter could end up in the hands of a judge. A lawyer should also always be contacted to give advice on sexual harassment rights and the best course of action to take.

Sexual Harassment in Employment

Sexual harassment in the workplace has in the past been widespread, and still occurs today. However, there are laws to help protect employees from this type of harassment. The legal definition of sexual harassment actual changed in October 2005. Before this date the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 was used to protect employees from discrimination in the form of discrimination due to gender. Before 2005, sexual harassment in the workplace was not actually defined in the Sex Discrimination Act 1975.

Harassment Before 2005

If someone wants to report an act of sexual harassment that occurred in the workplace before 2005 then it would be a claim of direct sex discrimination. This effectively means that you will need to show that you were treated in this manner by a member of the opposite sex. Employment tribunals defined sexual harassment as unwanted contact of a sexual nature either, physically, verbally or non-verbally. When the new laws came into force in 2005 the sex discrimination act was amended to offer more protection in the workplace against sexual harassment.

The New Laws

Sexual harassment in the workplace has often been a difficult thing to prove. In many cases it has been an act that has been swept under the carpet or not reported at all. The Employment Equality (Sex Discrimination) Regulations 2005 were brought in to bring new definitions on sexual harassment and indirect discrimination. It also set out new laws on discrimination due to pregnancy and maternity leave. New Laws were also set out that prohibited lower pay for women due to pregnancy and maternity leave.

Tackling Sexual Harassment

Whenever sexual harassment occurs it should be tackled head on. The victim has legal rights to be treated fairly and these rights should be asserted in cases of harassment or discrimination. Sexual harassment outside of the workplace should be reported directly to the police. If the harassment occurs in the workplace then the employer should be informed. Going higher than an employer will mean employment tribunals

Who Can Help?

If you have taken your grievance to an employer and still not received any satisfaction then contacting the Employment Tribunals Commission will be the next step of action. The victim will need to report the harassment within three months of the incident taking place. More information on sexual harassment in the workplace can be found from either the Employment Tribunals Commission or from the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Sexual harassment in the workplace can happen to both men and women. It can make the working environment intolerable and should always be taken very seriously. The law guarantees protection from harassment for everyone and these legal rights should always be asserted if harassment occurs.

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[Add a Comment]
Hi, My wife works in a cruise ship based out of Southhampton London. Recently she was inappropriately touched by an Indian co-worker by slapping her buttocks with a serving tray. She took this up to their grievance committee which is the normal process in the workplace but their Hr decided that tje incident does not warrant harrassment. They said that there is no intent as the guy did that because he only wanted to get her attention. Wanted to seek for your advice on the rights of my wife under the UK laws and if this is a case she should pursue. Thanks RM
RM - 26-Sep-18 @ 1:03 AM
UmmN - Your Question:
Why must I report the incident within 3 months? Although my last incident from my abuser is just yesterday and have had to silently endure years of serious abuse which I don't know what I am supposed to do able as I am close to the wife and children (she is aware as are some other professionals but no one ever gave me guidance ). I think what made me want to take action yesterday was the level of humiliation I am feeling. I had a restless sleep and my heart is heavy. I could suffer or a lot of people could suffer, yet I don't know why it should be me. I forgave all the past but this insult to my intelligence yesterday made me feel enough is enough

Our Response:
That's just the way the employment law works. If the latest incident was just yesterday, there's no reason why you can't report it now.
CivilRightsMovement - 10-Oct-17 @ 12:30 PM
Why must I report the incident within 3 months? Although my last incident from my abuser is just yesterday and have had to silently endure years of serious abuse which I don't know what I am supposed to do able as I am close to the wife and children (she is aware as are some other professionals but no one ever gave me guidance ). I think what made me want to take action yesterday was the level of humiliation I am feeling.I had a restless sleep and my heart is heavy. I could suffer or a lot of people could suffer, yet I don't know why it should be me. I forgave all the past but this insult to my intelligence yesterday made me feel enough is enough
UmmN - 7-Oct-17 @ 11:36 PM
My husband's friend came to my house after I called him to help me jumpstart my car. He then started touching my waist and rubbing my buttocks after starting the car. I kept it to myself because I didn't want people thinking that I'm ungrateful. He came back days later and repeated the same but this time me tried to kiss me. I reported him to the police but decided not to press charges. He has started spreading dirty rumours about me to anyone who cares to listen to him so I was wondering if I can still go back to the police and press charges. I regret not pressing the charges earlier because I was thinking about his wife and children.I hope it is not too late to press charges ( it's less than 2months)
Nana - 4-Mar-17 @ 4:24 PM
I was assaulted by a colleague who I was friends with in the workplace 7 months ago. He kept proposing before and after the incident but had calmed down after. I said if I am single in a few years I may consider him. He took this as a sign to continue touching me and kept asking if the few years can be reduced to 1 year or 6 months. Anyway, he assaulted me outside of the workplace and I tried to handle it by acting normal and didn't mention it to anyone. I did get down because of it After 4 months I spoke out about the first incident (he was still at work then) and then the one which occurred outside the workplace (he is suspended and it is a full disciplinary procedure). Also he hasapparantly been suspended for allegations of racism. I think this is so he can contact staff for statements (for raising his voice at me which I complained about) while he is off to have a good case against me as was made apparent last week. Also I have been told not to talk to anyone about it but I doubt he has as he is popular and some staff have been looking at me differently. What are the best steps for me to take? The school say they will support me if I tell the police but I don't trust them (some staff) and I don't want to talk about it again or for it to drag on like this is (he hasn't given his side and it's been 3 weeks). What will happen if I do take it to the police?In terms of the disciplinary procedure / case and what will happen if I dont take it to the police? thanks
Nimz - 4-Dec-16 @ 1:45 PM
I was assaulted by a colleague who I was friends with in the workplace 7 months ago. He kept proposing before and after the incident but had calmed down after. I said if I am single in a few years I may consider him. He took this as a sign to continue touching me and kept asking if the few years can be reduced to 1 year or 6 months. Anyway, he assaulted me outside of the workplace and I tried to handle it by acting normal and didn't mention it to anyone. I did get down because of it After 4 months I spoke out about the first incident (he was still at work then) and then the one which occurred outside the workplace (he is suspended and it is a full disciplinary procedure). Also he hasapparantly been suspended for allegations of racism. I think this is so he can contact staff for statements (for raising his voice at me which I complained about) while he is off to have a good case against me as was made apparent last week. Also I have been told not to talk to anyone about it but I doubt he has as he is popular and some staff have been looking at me differently. What are the best steps for me to take? The school say they will support me if I tell the police but I don't trust them (some staff) and I don't want to talk about it again or for it to drag on like this is (he hasn't given his side and it's been 3 weeks). What will happen if I do take it to the police?In terms of the disciplinary procedure / case and what will happen if I dont take it to the police? thanks
Nemz - 4-Dec-16 @ 12:59 PM
My girl friend is being treated unfairly now sense her boss found out that she's taken and has no chances getting with her, he's making her work life difficult and threatening that she better stop reporting him or it will get worse he's asked her to meet in private areas to talk and has played hands around her hip I'm tired of it what can I do to rid him?
tommydonald - 1-Dec-16 @ 6:04 PM
My supervisor is a lesbian. I don't mind it but she started to touch me and my female colleagues in the area of the belly and to slap us on our buttocks. This was unacceptable and I have complained. Now there is an internal investigation but I am not quite sure what will be the final result. My colleagues will be also interrogated. I am sure that they will say the truth. But the problem is that I don't feel capable to go to work together with my supervisor again. I feel scared and disgusted from seeing her again and being with her in one place. I don't want to communicate again with her. Do I have legal right to ask not to work again with her or in her presence?
Nad - 21-Oct-16 @ 11:45 AM
My daughter has recently started a new job. It was clear even at the time of the interview and subsequentjob offer that the boss 'fancied' her.Following the 'boss' apologising and promising not to continue with this suggestive behaviour my daughter decided she wasstrong enough to cope and started the job as it was exactly the role she had been looking for. Harassment continued in the office and stupidly, stupidly an affair over a couple of days began but has now ended - ended by my daughter. The boss is livid and continually sends vile and threatening messages. She has only been at the company for 3 weeks. Does she have any recourse or has she really messed up by getting involved with this man even for a few days?
Worried Mum - 12-Aug-15 @ 12:21 PM
My manager wanted to sleep with me during company training (stayed in a hotel two rooms) I kept refusing but he kept insisting. Previously he had made lots of remarks about my looks etc but I ignored them. He asked verbally I said no then Texts followed that night refused again and called him to stop texting. Following morning still carried on texting to go to his room. I am unsure how to tackle the situation. I raised internally with company but they asked if I should go informally first before raising grievance procedures. I am torn as I don't know what to do. Since incident I asked the perpetrator to stop and I think he has stopped now. But can I trust him
Ozzy - 25-Jun-15 @ 12:27 AM
@Unigal. Your employer should follow the formal grievance procedure, you can insist that they do this if you prefer. Sometimes employers will offer difference solutions if it means the victim will be less traumatised egnot having to attend an interview or tribunal.
CivilRightsMovement - 8-May-15 @ 11:31 AM
My MD showed up on a girls work night out and bought us champagne and tequila. He made several comments to girls saying they could buy what they wanted on his card if they could guess his pin, with one clue, 'it's dirty'. He groped girls and asked me to take my top off for him. I raise this with HR and was given a week of sick leave for anxiety but they have already offered me a settlement (amount yet unknown) after just 6 days. This seems premature as no investigation has taken place, no one other than me has come forward yet. Am I right to assume this has happened before and I'm being paid off before I can make a bigger issue of this?
Unigal - 2-May-15 @ 9:19 AM
@Pops. Try reporting this to the Landlords association. You should also contact the administrators of the website from where you found the room - their service has been misused by this woman.
CivilRightsMovement - 13-Mar-15 @ 11:59 AM
I, a male, rented a room advertised on the net through a shared rooms site. I took occupancy from 01 Feb but only stayed there from 16 Feb, was away for 9 days into march and been back since 7 March. Last night my landlady asked if I was interested in a relationship with her. I said no. She told me that she is not looking for someone to just pay rent but to have a relationship with. Today she has sent me an email telling me to get out as quickly as possible. Apart from the distress, discomfort and general awkwardness in the house now, I am also supposed to start a new job on Monday and this has put me in a very awkward position as I am basically beingevicted. What is my best course of action. I did talk to CAB but was basically laughed at!
Pops - 10-Mar-15 @ 10:05 PM
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