Legal Issues – Harassment

Glasgow charity must face the cost of not practising what it preaches.

A former charity worker has been awarded £90,000 in damages after being sexually harassed by her employer.

The employer, an anti-abuse charity based in Glasgow, was established to safeguard those in ethnic communities from abuse. However, the Employment Tribunal (ET) heard that the founder of the charity subjected the employee to a ‘calculated and premeditated’ pattern of abuse.

As well as making inappropriate remarks, the charity founder reduced the employee’s hours and made threats against her and her family when she told him that she had no romantic interest in him. The employee has since been diagnosed with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The charity’s trustees stated that they were unaware of the harassment, but the ET found that the charity allowed the abuse to continue. It ordered the employer to pay damages and retrain its employees on religious and sexual harassment.

This case highlights the need for employers to be aware of interactions between its employees and that pleading ignorance is rarely a strong argument. In cases of discrimination and harassment, the employer can be liable alongside the offending employee, and an employer wishing to defend such a claim must show that it took reasonable steps to prevent the discriminatory or harassing act from happening.

Examples of such steps include having equality and anti-harassment policies in place, training employees in equality and harassment issues and addressing any complaints appropriately.

If you have any questions on any of the issues raised in the above article, or would like to discuss taking reasonable steps in your own workplace, please contact Seanpaul McCahill.

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