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Sexual Harassment and Bullying in the workplace – the employer’s liability...

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Colchester Institute

Sheepen Road

Colchester

CO3 3LL

United Kingdom

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Following a number of high profile complaints in recent times involving movie moguls, leading actors and politicians, etc there has been a great deal of media interest in the subject of workplace sexual harassment and bullying. However, this is not a new area of litigation, and there has been a steady stream of cases passing through the courts for over thirty years in which employers have found themselves at the sharp end of some significant compensation awards. Incidentally, these awards and settlements tend to be relatively high, as increasingly, they include an 'injury to feelings' element.

So, what can the employer do in an era where increasingly, there is an expectation by employees of the right to protection under the law? In this workshop, we look at a number of key elements that all employers should be aware of, and further, we offer practical advice on steps to mitigate the risk of legal action. In particular, we look at the following;

  • Sexual harassment and bullying defined. - How do you identify it?
  • Investigation of complaints. Who investigates and how? Do you suspend anyone, and if so, who? Could this be a police matter, and if so, who reports it?
  • Constructive dismissal. What do you do if the victim walks out without going through the grievance procedure or awaiting the outcome of a disciplinary investigation?
  • Who is liable for substantiated complaints? Employers are now normally vicariously liable, but what about the perpetrator? How can an employer avoid responsibility?
  • Harassment/bullying policy. Should you have one and what should it say? Does it have any legal effect, and can it assist in any defence to claims?
  • Litigation. What is the legal procedure for bringing claims, and what has to be proved, and by whom? What are the employers potential defences?
  • Compensation. If you lose in the Tribunal, what might it cost you?
  • Victimisation. After the case, beware of residual claims from complainants.
  • Finally, there will be a Q & A session.

Nigel French (F. Inst L Ex, LLM) will lead this workshop. Nigel is an experienced lawyer, consultant, lecturer and trainer in human resources so is well placed to both present his views on this subject and to lead discussion on specific cases you may wish to raise.

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Colchester Institute

Sheepen Road

Colchester

CO3 3LL

United Kingdom

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