Woman Wins £90k After Bottom Slapped at WorkFree 20 minutes employment consultation
A woman has won £90,000 for a sexual harassment claim after being slapped on the bottom by a ruler during a staff meeting. In addition, her former employer alleged that she was “dressed provocatively” after she raised a grievance.
Comments from the Chief Commissioner of the Equality Commission
The Chief Commissioner of the Equality Commission, Geraldine McGahey described the case as shocking and distressing.
Ms. McGahey added that the investigation made the woman feel like a “perpetrator rather than a victim.”
“I think it really demonstrates very clearly that this organisation has a really toxic culture, a laddish culture and they just didn’t respect or have any regard for their women employees.”
As part of the court settlement, the employer is now working with the commission to ensure that they have comprehensive policies on sexual harassment, and properly training their staff.
What Was the Sexual Harassment Case?
The event took place in 2021 during a workplace meeting where a woman was told to stand up and turn around by a male manager. The manager then proceeded to slap her on the bottom with a ruler.
The manager then said: “I’m sorry, I had to.”
The woman then asked the other male manager who was present in the meeting if that was allowed.
She comments, that both men in the meeting treated the incident as a joke and told other employees who arrived in the meeting what had happened.
Initially, the woman felt too embarrassed to talk about what happened to her mother and boyfriend. However, she eventually told her employers that she would not return to the company until the matter had been addressed.
A more senior manager and the manager that slapped her asked if she would meet them at a coffee shop off-site to resolve the issue. She turned down this offer as she felt it was inappropriate.
The manager she accused of slapping her later resigned.
Raising a Sexual Harassment Grievance with Her Employer
The woman raised a grievance with her employer; however, they did not acknowledge it for 10 days and then took five weeks to uphold it. She states that when the results of the investigation were made, they included “untrue and disparaging” comments about her.
She appealed the contents of the grievance outcome and then resigned saying that she could not return to work for the employer.
During the appeal, the woman’s employer said she had “dressed and behaved in a provocative manner,” which she denies.
The woman said the letter was further harassment and therefore blames the company for what happened to her.
“Severe Embarrassment and Humiliation”
Ms. McGahey says that the woman “suffered severe embarrassment and humiliation”.
“She was talked about in the office. I really respect the complainant, that she wants to remain anonymous, she wants to get away from the embarrassment and humiliation that she feels is attached to it.”
She adds: “I think the key message to other women who are also suffering is you don’t have to stand up and have your face known, you can do this in a private way and a confidential way.”
Ms. McGahey says the lesson for employers was that “it’s not good just having policy sitting on a shelf”.
“If you don’t respect your employees, if you don’t take action to protect women, you’re failing women – and ultimately it’ll cost you dearly.
“It’ll cost your reputation, your staff turnover, and, through a tribunal, a lot of money.”
Making a Claim with a Workplace Sexual Harassment Solicitor
Time Limits for a Sexual Harassment Claim
If you are in the unfortunate position where you have experienced workplace sexual harassment, you must submit your claim to the employment tribunal within three months (minus one day) of when the harassment occurred. The date from which the time limit will start to run may differ depending on the sexual harassment you have experienced.
At any point in your employment, you can make a claim at the Employment Tribunal if you have been sexually harassed at work.
Who is Responsible for Workplace Sexual Harassment?
The responsibility lies with the perpetrator, but the employer is also responsible and liable for the conduct of their employee. It doesn’t matter if this has been done with the employer’s knowledge or approval. This is called ‘vicarious liability’ and is covered by the Equality Act 2010. It can also include events that haven’t taken place in the workplace such as nights out and staff parties. As a result, the claim can directly pursue the person who is doing the harassment.
How Much Compensation Can You Receive for a Sexual Harassment Claim?
If you receive compensation, the Employment Tribunal can additionally give you a separate award. This includes one from your employer and one from the harasser. Additionally, compensation for sexual harassment can include an award for loss and injury to feelings. There is no cap on the amount of compensation you can receive.
Can You Make More Than One Claim?
There is additionally an option to claim for harassment under Equality Act. This is because you may be able to link your sexual harassment claim to a sex discrimination claim. Your Employment Solicitor will be able to discuss this with you as it depends on the circumstances of your case.
How Our Workplace Sexual Harassment Solicitors Can Help Your Claim
Our expert workplace sexual harassment lawyers are here to support you through your claim, making sure you receive the justice and compensation you deserve.
Our employment solicitors will guide you through the legal process. We will assure you choose the best options to aid in the success of your claim. Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious matter that should never be ignored. Therefore, our workplace sexual harassment solicitors will work closely with you to hold those who are responsible for the harassment accountable.
Get in contact with our team of solicitors to start your claim.