Home > Discrimination Issues > Sexual Harassment and Your Rights

Sexual Harassment and Your Rights

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 4 Apr 2017 | 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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COCOKIKI2 - Your Question:
My daughter is in her second year at uni away from home but in UK. She has sent me copies of messages and emails from her uni lecturer from last year he would message her most evenings going on till midnight, she was too scared to tell anyone and just tried to ignore him, but then he would message about uni assignments so she had no choice to respond to these. We have messages from him saying he enjoys the scent she leaves in her office. that he enjoys the bubble they are in and she must feel it like he does. These messages are sometimes late at night and she has no idea how he got her mobile number. She is now thinking of making it a formal complaint does this sound like sexual harassment? she was 18 at the time and he was about 60.

Our Response:
Yes it's certainly not appropriate behaviour from a lecturer. Most universities have student welfare offices, she could make a complaint there first of all.
CivilRightsMovement - 6-Apr-17 @ 11:20 AM
My daughter is in her second year at uni away from home but in UK. She has sent me copies of messages and emails from her uni lecturer from last year he would message her most evenings going on till midnight, she was too scared to tell anyone and just tried to ignore him, but then he would message about uni assignments so she had no choice to respond to these. We have messages from him saying he enjoys the scent she leaves in her office. that he enjoys the bubble they are in and she must feel it like he does. These messages are sometimes late at night and she has no idea how he got her mobile number. She is now thinking of making it a formal complaint does this sound like sexual harassment? she was 18 at the time and he was about 60.
COCOKIKI2 - 4-Apr-17 @ 6:37 PM
Mich - Your Question:
My friend works in a pub and was sexually assaulted by man that works there. She put in a complaint and it was investigated. Her boss said as there were no witnesses she now has to continue working with him on evenings. She is very upset but can't afford to quit. Is there any laws she can use to stop her boss making her working with him ?

Our Response:
She should talk to ACAS about this with a view to taking further action if her employer dismissed.
CivilRightsMovement - 3-Apr-17 @ 2:31 PM
My friend works in a pub and was sexually assaulted by man that works there. She put in a complaint and it was investigated . Her boss said as there were no witnesses she now has to continue working with him on evenings . She is very upset but can't afford to quit . Is there any laws she can use to stop her boss making her working with him ?
Mich - 31-Mar-17 @ 6:53 PM
I am a single mother and I rent a flat from a private owner. For some time, the owner suggested to me that he liked me and wanted to go to bed with me. He hugs me and kisses on goodbye in unequivocal terms. Yesterday when I asked him for help in finding a larger flat for me and my son he suggested price for the favor in the form of sex. I can not report to the police, because my host and the man is rich. That I am afraid no one will believe me. I feel uncomfortable and I don't know what I should to do now.
Beth - 6-Mar-17 @ 6:00 AM
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
Upset friend - Your Question:
My friend has been having problems at work with another employee whom is of the same sex as my friend. Where the employee has been ridiculing of what I deem as form of bullying/harassment towards my friend within the workplace by pulling my friends trousers and pants down showing all his privates to other work colleagues. This is not exceptable behaviour. What could my friend do other than putting in a grievance against that employee? Is this a form of sexual harassment?

Our Response:
The only way to formally resolve this is to report it as sexual harassment (and yes it is). He should be sure to make his complaint within 3 months of the last incident.
CivilRightsMovement - 24-Feb-17 @ 11:27 AM
My friend has been having problems at work with another employee whom is of the same sex as my friend. Where the employee has been ridiculing of what I deem as form of bullying/harassment towards my friend within the workplace by pulling my friends trousers and pants down showing all his privates to other work colleagues.This is not exceptable behaviour. What could my friend do other than putting in a grievance against that employee? Is this a form of sexual harassment?
Upset friend - 21-Feb-17 @ 6:18 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
tommydonald - Your Question:
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?

Our Response:
She should make a formal complaint to her employer as detailed in the above article. Thjs guide might also be of use.
CivilRightsMovement - 2-Dec-16 @ 1:58 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
em - Your Question:
My boss has sexually harrassed me plus bullying plus cyberbullying for 2.5 years. I kept it hidden hoping would go away.And have health issue and job suits me. My work is 100% Has all blown up and his boss is aware but does not want to be involved. So just the three of us. The two of them are very powerful people. I am being harrassed to withdraw the allegations. What can I do?

Our Response:
Stick with it. A person cannot be allowed to get away with sexually based behaviour that you find intimidating. If you are forced out of your job because of this, you should consider taking it to an employment tribunal.
CivilRightsMovement - 21-Nov-16 @ 10:31 AM
My boss has sexually harrassed me plus bullying plus cyberbullying for 2.5 years. I kept it hidden hoping would go away.And have health issue and job suits me. My work is 100% Has all blown up and his boss is aware but does not wantto be involved. So just the three of us. The two of them are very powerful people. I am being harrassed to withdraw the allegations. What can I do?
em - 18-Nov-16 @ 4:57 AM
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
fred - Your Question:
My friend was sexually harrassed at work. But as it was over three months ago she has been told that no action will be taken as she didn't report it at the time. Is this correct. Thanks

Our Response:
Yes unforunately for your friend, complaints of sexual harassment must be filed within 3 months of the incident.
CivilRightsMovement - 3-Oct-16 @ 11:32 AM
My friend was sexually harrassed at work. But as it was over three months ago she has been told that no action will be taken as she didn't report it at the time. Is this correct. Thanks
fred - 1-Oct-16 @ 8:27 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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