It is vital for employers to have comprehensive policies in the workplace that are regularly reviewed and upon which staff are properly trained.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has recently considered whether behaviour amounts to sexual harassment. The facts of the case are more unusual because they relate to the less typical scenario of a male employee complaining about the behaviour towards him of a female manager.
The manager massaged the shoulders of the junior, male employee in an open plan office. He claimed that this action was unwanted and made him feel uncomfortable and be brought a claim for sexual harassment.
The EAT held that while the behaviour was misguided, it did not amount to sexual harassment as it was not conduct of a sexual nature nor was it 'related to sex'.
A commonly used term is that each case turns on its own facts – and that is true here – but it is an important reminder to employers to make it clear to employees what is acceptable behaviour and what might amount to harassment.
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