U.K: Courts Toughen Laws On Sex Pests At Work

  1. 12th March 2007

    [​IMG] A judge has ruled that the Government failed to comply properly with its obligations under EU law in relation to sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination

    Woman have won greater legal protection against sexual harassment at work. A High Court judgment means employers will in future be required to protect female staff from unwanted advances from customers and clients as well as colleagues.

    Among those most likely to benefit are women working in hotels, restaurants, estate agencies, bars and shops and other jobs where there is regular contact with members of the public.
    The ruling also means more job protection during pregnancy. Bosses will be compelled to consult women whose job alters when they are on maternity leave, while rules banning discrimation against pregnant staff will be strengthened.
    The ruling follows a challenge by the Equal Opportunities Commission to government regulations implemented after a new EU directive on equal treatment for employees.
    The commission argued that the UK version of the European rules was not as tough as the Brussels version and that, in some cases, raised doubts about existing rights won through British case law.
    That view was upheld by Mr Justice Burton who ordered Trade Secretary Alistair Darling to amend the Government’s regulations within seven days to bring them into line with EU law.

    It means that when staff report harassment by a client, their employer will have a duty to protect from further abuse.
    A manager could be sued if he or she continues sending a woman to meetings with a man who has previously harassed her.

    Similarly, asking a waitress or chambermaid to continue serving a male client who has pestered her would be in breach of the new law.
    Jenny Watson, the head of the Equal Opportunities Commission, said the judge’s ruling would benefit large numbers of women and clarify the law for employers.
    "This decision is a welcome result for the thousands of vulnerable-women who suffer pregnancy discrimination and sexual harassment every year," she said.

    "It should also come as good news for employers, who now have a clear understanding of their rights and responsibilities and won’t find themselves tied up in expensive and time-consuming cases seeking clarification of regulations that are incompatible with European legislation."

    A spokesman for the Department of Trade and Industry said the ruling would be considered by the Department of Communities and Local Government, which has taken over responsibility for equality matters.
    The Government has seven days to appeal but otherwise must implement the judgment.
    • Hundreds of thousands of men working in the public sector could have their salaries cut to fund increases for female staff, it was claimed today.
    Higher-paid white-collar women workers could also lose money and council tax bills could increase as equal pay agreements take effect.
    Up to 1.5 million female council workers, NHS and Ministry of Defence staff and teaching assistants are eligible for equal pay settlements stretching back over six years. The claims could cost the taxpayer more than £10 billion.

    Daily mail
  2. Good for them!

    I would think there's nothing worse for a woman than to be sexually harassed by a customer and still have to keep bringing his food / cleaning his room.
  3. I'm so pleased about this.... I mean for those people that suffer from sexual harassment at work, it must just be a nightmare. To have to keep going in day after day and facing the offender must be awful - hopefully these new laws will help tackle the problem and give people at work greater protection. The article mentions women a lot but I think men can be pestered at work too and recieve unwanted attention that makes them uncomfortable.
  4. Where I used to work, we were all familiar with the sexual harrassment policy because it was clearly posted in our back room. We did eight out of ten things on that list on a daily basis, and we joked that it was only sexual harrassment if it wasn't welcome. And so far, nobody had a problem with that.

    I also think it's great that pregnant women have more benefits now.
  5. That is good news!
  6. I'm glad as well, but I just hope that raising these issues will make people more aware of the laws, and where is the line/limit not to cross.
    Also hopefully they will RESPECT and not break the law -like it's often the case.....I know a woman who was sexually harassed to push her to quit her job , she couldn't prove it, she wanted to keep her job (no jobs available in france) so she survived with anti depression medication.
    Also some women get fired after anouncing their pregnancy, is it legal ? no . But procedures for attacking your boss take years.....