Sexual Harassment in the Workplace is Still a Problem

The exploits of Don Draper in the TV show Mad Men highlight the type of sexism that took place in the workplace during the 1960s and whilst we may like to think these times are far behind us 50 years later unfortunately sexism is still a regular occurrence in the workplace.[dt_gap height=”10″ /]

Both men and women are still plagued by sexism and sexual harassment by their colleagues and this is revealed in a recent report by the Everyday Sexism Project.[dt_gap height=”10″ /]

Discrimination is a serious issue and is still responsible for a large number claims in the Employment Tribunal today. A blog in the Guardian has outlined the types of behaviour that men and women tolerate in the workplace even though they should not have to.[dt_gap height=”10″ /]

The Everyday Sexism Project collected almost 10000 entries relating to complaints of workplace harassment making it one of the most common issues reported.[dt_gap height=”10″ /]

Solicitor’s firm Slater & Gordon has said that one in six women have had colleagues look down their tops nearly half have received comments about their breasts and one in eight have had to quit their jobs because of the effects of sexual harassment.[dt_gap height=”10″ /]

One of the most shocking comments published by the Guardian related to an employee who alleged that she “had a manager that said he would ‘totally rape [her]’”.[dt_gap height=”10″ /]

The study found that 40% of men have reported experiencing harassment or sexism at work. However given the nature of sexual harassment it would not be surprising to learn that the majority of men suffering from sexual harassment have not reported it.[dt_gap height=”10″ /]

Another problem to note in relation to these complaints is that once they are made sometimes the reports are dismissed or the reporting employee is accused of being too sensitive. This does not encourage victims to report inappropriate behaviour in the future and the study found that people were fearful of taking steps to make a complaint in case it was trivialised or they would lose their job.[dt_gap height=”10″ /]

We should not need to live in a society where employees fear to complain about sexual harassment and employees and employers alike need to be aware that no matter how successful a company or how senior a manager this type of behaviour is against the law.[dt_gap height=”10″ /]

All employees are protected by the rights and responsibilities contained within the Equality Act 2010. This important piece of legislation highlights to all employees that they have a right not to be discriminated against harassed or victimised in the workplace on the grounds of their sex as well as on other grounds including race sexual orientation and disability.[dt_gap height=”10″ /]

The Equality Act 2010 provides that:[dt_gap height=”10″ /]

1. no employee should be treated less favourably than a colleague because of their sex;[dt_gap height=”10″ /]

2. no employee should be subjected to treatment that is intended to or has the effect of violating their dignity or creating an intimidating hostile degrading or humiliating environment (harassment);[dt_gap height=”10″ /]

3. no employee should be treated less favourably because they have made a complaint that they have been discriminated against or harassed (victimisation).[dt_gap height=”10″ /]

It is true that sexual misconduct at work should have been left behind in the 1960s so that we could watch programmes like Mad Men and sit amazed that people ever behaved in that way. However unfortunately both men and women will continue to be subjected to such treatment. The only way that we as a society can deal with it is by making everybody aware of their rights and encouraging any people affected by sexual misconduct of any kind to speak up.[dt_gap height=”10″ /]

It is equally important that employers provide sufficient training to their staff that they take responsibility for any harassment at work and that they fully investigate complaints of sexual harassment without simply brushing them under the carpet as insignificant or describing people as “too sensitive”.[dt_gap height=”10″ /]

If you believe that you have been a victim of sexual harassment at work you believe that you have been treated less favourably by your employer because of your sex or you have been discriminated against for any other reason and you would like to speak to a specialist solicitors in Leeds then please contact the dedicated employment team at Michael lewin Solicitors and we will be happy to discuss your situation with you.[dt_gap height=”10″ /]

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