Low earners most likely prey of office sex pests

Young women on low pay and who have been in their job for less than a year
are the most likely members of staff to fall victim to sexual harassment,
according to an Equal Opportunities Commission report.

Sexual Harassment at Work urges employers to adopt clear policies for
harassment and to implement and communicate an effective complaints procedure.

The EOC examined 54 tribunal decisions on sexual harassment from the past
three years. It found that nearly all of the 34 employees who won their cases
lost their job or resigned as a result of the harassment.

In half of the tribunals, the sexual harassment lasted for over two months,
and in a quarter it lasted for over a year before the victim complained. Nearly
half of the staff concerned had not made a formal work-based complaint because
they were too embarrassed and felt there was no one to complain to.

Commenting on the findings, Dianah Worman, equality adviser at the CIPD,
said, "It is vital that companies have a policy that is well communicated
so victimised employees know what channels to go through and where to start.

"Employers need to be on their toes about sexual harassment. Systems
must be in place as intimidating behaviour affects performance."

In a third of cases, the guilty party was a company director or owner. A
further third were the claimants’ line managers.

John Monks, TUC general secretary, believes the report casts doubt on the
Government’s attempts to reduce the number of tribunal claims.

He said, "We are concerned that government proposals to introduce
charges for tribunals will make it harder for victims of sexual harassment to
get justice. As the report shows, many victims are low paid workers who would
find it hard to raise the cash needed to bring a case."


By Paul Nelson

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