If you experience sexual harassment at work or witness it happening to someone else, you have a few options to try and end it.
Firstly, you can talk directly to the perpetrator. Letting them know that you understand your legal rights and that what they are doing is illegal could be enough to stop them. Of course, this will not always work and in some cases, could lead to further harassment or problems.
Secondly, you can report it to your employer. They have a duty to act and could face legal problems if they do not. However, experience shows that some employers do not take the steps they should and may even take action against the person reporting the harassment to protect the perpetrator – especially if the perpetrator is high up in the company or a personal friend of theirs.
You may have to take legal action
You have two possible options here, depending on what happened. You may have a case for “quid pro quo” harassment, which is what you would claim if the perpetrator asked for a sexual favor in return for something. For example, if your boss told you that they would promote you if you slept with them. There needs to be some kind of power imbalance here, where the perpetrator has more than the victim.
You could also claim that you were the victim of a hostile work environment if the harassment included an ongoing series of incidents. Things such as sexually charged comments, inappropriate jokes or inappropriate touches can soon add up to make the thought of going to work unbearable.
Reporting sexual harassment can be challenging. Learning more about your options as soon as you experience it can help you take the action you need.