Understanding sexual harassment


Your right to not be sexually harassed while at work is part of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975.

Employers have a duty to take all allegations of sexual harassment seriously and should you make a complaint you have a right to have it listened to and handled with sensitivity.

Visit our employment law pages to learn more about your rights in the workplace.

What counts as sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment has no set definition and sometimes the person committing the harassment might not realise what they are doing. This does not mean that you have to put up with it. You have a right to feel safe in the workplace and you do not need to feel reluctant about raising an issue if there is a problem.

Generally, sexual harassment can take a number of forms that include:

  • Verbal, such as cat-calling, inappropriate comments and sexual language
  • Non-verbal, such as inappropriate staring or obscene gestures
  • Physical, such as unwelcome touching, hugging or groping

What you can do

If you feel you are the victim of any type of sexual harassment, your first action could be to make an informal complaint to your employer (if it's at work) or the person in charge. They may be able to resolve the matter quickly by speaking to the person involved or even starting disciplinary proceedings.

If you are unsatisfied with their response however, or feel the seriousness of the situation merits it, you can also start a formal grievance procedure. This will trigger your employer’s legal responsibility under discrimination law to thoroughly investigate your claims, and take action appropriate action based on the evidence.

Speak to us to get the process started as we can give you crucial advice.

Tribunal cases

The employment tribunal is empowered to hear sexual harassment cases and can award compensation. It will, however, only hear claims if they were filed within three months of the last instance of harassment.

An employment tribunal can be a daunting prospect for most people to go through; especially with a sexual harassment case. The help, support and representation of a solicitor is always advisable, as employment law can often be open to interpretation.

Your solicitor will be able to represent you at the tribunal and give your case the best chance of a successful outcome.

If you would like to obtain legal advice about sexual discrimination, we can put you in touch with a cost-effective specialist sexual harassment solicitor free of charge. Please call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form on the right to speak to an advisor.

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