July 6, 2020
Data Protection – the Return to Work Safely Protocol
When the Return to Work Safely Protocol was published in May, we outlined the main considerations for employers. You can read this piece here. In this piece, we outlined that...
Sexual Harassment & Bullying in The Workplace
The impacts of bullying, harassment and sexual harassment should never be underestimated. At Lavelle Partners, we know that health, lives and careers can be damaged irreparably if bullying and harassment are allowed to persist, whether known or unknown from the perspective of the employer.
If you have been the victim of bullying in the workplace in Ireland, it is imperative you seek the guidance of an experienced specialist in this area of the law. Not only is a complete knowledge of the law required, we understand you need a Solicitor who has the time and desire to listen with empathy to the details of your case and will do so with the utmost confidentiality.
At Lavelle Partners, our dedicated team of solicitors have been working in this area for over 30 years and have successfully brought to a conclusion many cases of employment-related bullying, harassment, and sexual harassment.
There are a number of statutory provisions and codes that provide protection and guidance for employees from bullying and harassment and sexual harassment in the workplace.
The Employment Equality Act 1998-2015 (the Act) specifically places a duty on employers to prevent harassment. The Act states employers have an obligation to pay compensation to employees if they have been harassed at work in relation to any of the following protected characteristics:
Employees who have been harassed due to any of these characteristics may be eligible to make a claim to the Workplace Relations Commission.
Within the workplace context, the Act defines harassment and as “unwanted conduct” which may take the form of:
Harassment is further defined as that which, “has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity and creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the person”.
Sexual harassment is “unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature”.
Bullying or harassment may be instigated by any member of staff, a customer, or business-related contact of any type (e.g. suppliers and third-parties).
The Employment Equality Act 1998 (Code of Practice) (Harassment) Order 2012 provides guidance for employers on the elimination of discrimination and the promotion of equality of opportunity. It also makes clear the impact of sexual harassment, stating:
“Sexual harassment and harassment on the eight other non-gender discriminatory grounds pollute the working environment and can have a devastating effect on the health, confidence, morale and performance of those affected by it. The anxiety and stress produced by sexual harassment and harassment may lead to those subjected to it taking time off work due to sickness and stress, being less efficient at work or leaving their job to seek work elsewhere. Employees often suffer the adverse consequences of the harassment itself and, in addition, the short and long term damage to their employment prospects if they are forced to forego promotion or to change jobs. Sexual harassment and harassment may also have a damaging impact on employees not themselves the object of unwanted behaviour but who are witness to it or have a knowledge of the unwanted behaviour”. The Code of Practice essentially ‘sets the bar’ for what employers should be doing in relation to the elimination of harassment within the workplace. As such, there is no excuse for any form of bullying, harassment, or sexual harassment.
Lavelle Partners work with Talbot Pierce to provide a seamless service in respect of Human Resource Management. Talbot Pierce are a team of specialist HR professionals who work with us on a range of matters including advice on and delivery of conflict/dispute resolution solutions, best-practice HR strategies, policies and procedures.
For further information on workplace harassment, sexual harassment, and bullying in Ireland, please contact Lavelle Partners in confidence on (01) 644 5800.
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