What to do when you are affected by harassment in the workplace

Closeup portrait of a woman crying holding a mobile phone with a friend consoling her

Under the Equality Act 2010, harassment in the workplace is unlawful. Harassment comes in many forms such as a hostile working relationship, sexual harassment, racial harassment and victimisation. As the victim might not aware that the treatment they have experienced is against the law, the acid test is to ask yourself – do you feel distressed, humiliated or threatened? If the answer is yes, then it’s time to act.

How Common is it?

Harassment is far more common than most people think, and some industries are particularly affected. According to a survey by the workers’ union Unite, the hospitality sector has some of the highest rates of sexual harassment in particular, where 89% of workers report having been sexually harassed at work. While over half said they were targeted by a member of the public, 22.7% said they had been harassed by their manager, and many felt powerless to report it. Over half of the respondents said the harassment made them want to leave their job – so it is vital that employers start taking these numbers seriously.

Research from Investors in People (IIP) in 2018 found that 48% of female workers in the UK have experienced gender discrimination, and 88% of young people considered gender discrimination to be an issue in the workplace, often in regard to unfair pay. Every business with over 250 employees was required to file a gender pay gap report to the government by April 4th this year; the ones that have done so can be found here.

What steps to take

The first thing to do if you have been the victim of harassment or unfair treatment in the workplace is to approach your manager, HR department or union representative. It might be possible to resolve the problem informally. If the problem is serious or persists, ask to make a formal complaint via your employer’s grievance procedure – this will document what has happened.

In some cases, following procedure does not solve the problem. At this point, you may need to take legal action at an employment tribunal, which is the same process you’d go through for unfair dismissal or unlawful deductions from your pay. The tribunal is independent of government and will listen to both you and your employer before making a decision. Before you take your case to a tribunal, it’s best to seek legal advice from a specialist employment solicitor to make sure you have a claim and that you are following the correct procedures. Employers will usually have their own legal representation so it’s best to make sure you do as well.

Call us today

If you are facing harassment at work, don’t delay – call the experts at Romain Coleman Solicitors. Our employment lawyers can advise you on all aspects of employment law, your rights, and how to take your case further. If you wish to take your employer to an employment tribunal, we will arrange a free initial consultation to inform you on whether you have a case, how much it is likely to cost, and we can advise you throughout the whole process – including representation in court. Harassment in the workplace is a serious issue, and you have the right to work without fearing discrimination or unfair treatment.

Contact the employment law specialists at Romain Coleman today on 0208 520 4555 or use our Quick Online Enquiry Form.