Today sees further allegations of sexual harassment against members of a political party, this time UKIP’s Roger Bird. Although the full details are yet to come out the fact these allegations have been raised further emphasises the need for us all to be mindful of our conduct in the workplace.
Under the Equality Act sexual harassment in the workplace is defined as;
‘any unwanted conduct of a sexual nature that has the purpose or effect of violating the victim’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the victim’
It is clear therefore that although the perpetrator’s intention (‘the purpose’) is important, arguably the far more important part is the ‘effect’ on the victim. Indeed the perception of the conduct in the eyes of the victim is explicitly included as a consideration that any Employment Tribunal must take into account.
Although there is consideration given as to whether it is reasonable for the victim to have felt intimidated, degraded, humiliated etc an employer’s focus should very much be on how the victim perceived the conduct and the effect on the victim.
If following a full investigation it is found that the victim did feel intimidated, degraded, humiliated etc then the employer should give very serious consideration to dismissing the perpetrator as otherwise the Company can find itself in the Employment Tribunal facing a claim for unlawful harassment.
If you have any queries about anything in this article please do not hesitate to contact our Gary Smith on 01279 712576 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.