No newsletter would be complete without a tale so incredulous that it ends up in a tabloid media storm. This month’s wooden spoon goes to the manager of a biscuit factory who , among other things wrote the following lewd message in an employee’s birthday card:
‘Lisa it’s your birthday, I bet you’re thrilled to bits, but not as much as I would be if I could feel your tits!!!’
The employee in question was successful in her sexual harassment claim and the case has made national news with pictures of the manager in question outside the Tribunal being used in the reporting. Employers are vicariously liable for sexual harassment and such instances reflect as badly on them as they do the harasser.
In the post-Weinstein fallout, Hollywood’s elephant in the room is now finally being tackled and treated – quite rightly – as a serious issue. However, the problem is not limited to the entertainment industry and is endemic in wider society. It is very likely that sexual harassment at work will be something that becomes a more prevalent issue and one the Courts may adopt a new approach to.
Whilst this case is a blatant example, employers need to be mindful that harassment can take many forms and that conduct of a sexual nature can be perceived in many ways and if the harassing employee involved is more senior than the victim then this position of power will exacerbate any harassment issues.