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Women in fear of sexual harassment at work - By Kiran Daurka

I was surprised to see this week (28 May 2012) that the Daily Mail has reported that a whopping 40% of women surveyed have been inappropriately touched at work by male colleagues. The story refers to a survey which interviewed over 3400 women, of which 50% had experienced some form of verbal harassment. Many incidents of sexual harassment happen during dress down days, or on warm days when women wear lighter clothes to work.  The survey also revealed that a significant proportion of women (50%) would not know what to do if they wanted to complain about harassment.  Women – I urge you to know your rights. Harassment is not to be tolerated. If you feel that, certain behaviour of a sexual nature (whether physical or verbal) is unwanted and creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment – this is unlawful harassment. Also, you should not be treated less favourably if you have spurned (or engaged in) sexual advances – again, this is unlawful sexual harassment.You are entitled not to be sexually harassed at work, and if you feel you have been a victim, contact HR; ask for the harassment policy and find out how to raise a complaint or grievance against the perpetrator. Usually, you will be required to set out your complaint to HR. If you are particularly concerned, you can ask for HR to anonymise the complaint. If the complaint is not resolved to your satisfaction, or the behaviour continues, then seek legal advice from a specialist employment lawyer as there may be scope to bring a claim.By Kiran Daurka

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