Half of all women have been ‘sexually harassed at work’
Research by the TUC (Trades Union Congress) suggests that more than half of women have experienced some form of sexual harassment at work.
In most cases, the perpetrator was male, with one in five women (17%) reporting harassment by someone with authority over them.
Younger women were also significantly more likely to be impacted with two-thirds of 18 to 24-year old saying they have suffered sexual harassment at work.
However the vast majority (90%) of women who said they’d experienced sexual harassment at work didn’t report it to their employers. Reasons given include a fear that they wouldn’t be taken seriously (24%), worries it would damage their career (15%) or simply that they were too embarrassed (20%).
The TUC survey also found that:
- 28% of women received sexual comments about their body or clothes
- A fifth suffered unwanted verbal sexual advances at work
- One in eight experienced touching or attempts to kiss them at work
Samantha Castle, employment law specialist, said of the research:
“Equality rules were created to ensure that women aren’t subjected to harassment or sexual discrimination in the workplace, but it would be naïve to suggest that it’s a thing of the past.
In fact, sexual harassment is impacting the working lives of thousands of women and this is frankly unacceptable. We simply cannot tolerate a situation where women are treated unfairly in the workplace.
It’s important to remember that men are also subject to unwanted sexual harassment at work and it can be emotionally more difficult to them to come forward for help. But regardless of your gender, profession and seniority, I would urge anyone facing any form of workplace discrimination to seek advice from a specialist employment law solicitor.”
I think I’m being sexually harassed. What should I do?
Your first step is to inform your line manager or someone in a position of authority that you’re being sexually harassed. We recommend putting your complaint in writing (email is fine) so that you have a record of it being sent.
You could also file a grievance with your HR department, if you have one.
Make sure that you log all incidences of sexual harassment – try to record dates and details of what happens. Also make a note of any witnesses. You can present this as evidence of sexual harassment to your employer or solicitor.
Finally seek legal advice. If your complaint/grievance is not properly dealt with or if the sexual harassment continues or is serious in nature, it’s important that you take advice from a specialist employment law solicitor. But make sure you consult a solicitor quickly – you only have three months from the last date of harassment to make an employment tribunal claim.
Everyone has the right to be treated fairly at work and there are laws to protect you against sexual discrimination in the workplace.