Sexual Harassment

Every person has the right to be treated fairly and respectfully in the workplace, and to be able to carry out their duties free of sexual harassment. There are many different forms of sexual harassment which range from overt requests for sexual favours through to suggestive comments, inappropriate photos, unwanted advances or questions of an intimate nature.

Employers have a duty of care to effectively address sexual harassment in the workplace and if this is breached, you may be able to take a case to a tribunal. Whether you are an employer who has received an allegation or an employee who is experiencing sexual harassment, we can provide legal advice and help.

For more information about our employment law services please call us on +44 (0)20 3475 6751 or email info@carterbond.co.uk

More information about sexual harassment

Do you need more information about sexual harassment in the workplace? We can help with advice on sexual harassment and how to pursue a claim for discrimination.

The Equality Act 2010 provides protection for employees and contractors against sexual harassment in the workplace. The same protection applies to both men and women.

This legislation makes it unlawful for you to experience conduct of a sexual nature which either is intended to, or has the purpose of, violating your dignity.

The legislation

Section s.26(2) and s.27(1)(b of the Equality Act 2010 set out in more detail exactly what sexual harassment is:

  • The perpetrator “engages in unwanted conduct of a sexual nature”
  • It “has the purpose or effect of violating your worker’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive  environment”

The term “sexual nature” is more of an ambiguous area as this is not precisely described. However, this does not need to be physical contact; verbal or non-verbal communication or actions may also be considered as “unwanted conduct of a sexual nature”. Examples could include sending an unwanted, explicit email which is considered to be offensive, or displaying a pornographic calendar on the wall.


The law states that the individual who carries out the sexual harassment will be held liable, but the employer may be liable too.

It is possible for the employer to avoid being held liable for the sexual harassment but they must be able to demonstrate they took all reasonable steps to prevent and address the situation. This doesn’t just refer to being proactive when a complaint was raised, but also in providing training on sexual harassment to staff and having clear policies in place.

The Equality Act 2010 is only designed to cover instances which occur in the workplace. However, sexual harassment which occurs while socialising with work colleagues or while away on a business trip are also covered.

An employer is not responsible for the conduct of any non-employees, but they still have obligations. An employer is expected to act swiftly and clearly if a complaint about sexual harassment committed by a non-employee is received. Failing to do so could make the employer liable for actions of the non-employee.

Sexual harassment is an emotive issue where careful application of the legislation is necessary. We have many years of experience providing support in contentious cases and can help whether you are defending against a claim, or have been the victim of sexual harassment yourself.


Howard Lewis-Nunn

Employment Partner / Barrister

e: howard@carterbond.co.uk
t: +44 020 3475 2713
m: +44 07572 823 361


Acted for an associate in the banking sector who was discriminated against because of their background, and settled for a year’s worth of salary and a bonus

Advised a client in the research sector who was being harassed by their manager, and helped expose systemic abuse within the workplace

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