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Sexual Harassment and 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 35 years and have successfully brought to a conclusion many cases of employment-related bullying, harassment, and sexual harassment.

What is the law in Ireland in relation to bullying and 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:

  • Age.
  • Civil status.
  • Disability.
  • Family status.
  • Gender.
  • Membership of the Traveller community.
  • Race.
  • Religious belief.
  • Sexual orientation.

Employees who have been harassed due to any of these characteristics may be eligible to make a claim to the Workplace Relations Commission.

What is workplace bullying, harassment or sexual harassment?

Within the workplace context, the Act defines harassment and as “unwanted conduct” which may take the form of:

  • spoken words.
  • gestures or the production and display of written words.
  • pictures and other material.
  • offensive gestures or facial expressions.
  • unwelcome and offensive calendars, screen-savers, e-mails and any other offensive material in relation to any of the above characteristics.

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).

What is the Employment Equality Act 1998 (Code or Practice)(Harassment) Order 2012?

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.

How Lavelle Partners can assist you in relation to bullying or any form of harassment.

  • For over 35 years, our team of employment law Solicitors, headed by Senior Partner, Marc Fitzgibbon, have been supporting and assisting victims of workplace harassment, sexual harassment, and bullying in Ireland.  Over that time, we have developed an enviable reputation for providing legal excellence and empathetic support for our valued clients.
  • Marc is a former member of the Law Society of Ireland’s Employment & Equality Law Committee and European Employment Lawyers Association.
  • Lavelle Partners have dedicated employment law and workplace personal injury teams who will collaborate where necessary to ensure your best interests are protected.
  • From the first moment you speak to one of our workplace bullying Solicitors, we will listen to your case carefully and with the greatest of empathy.  Furthermore, we understand that bullying and harassment matters often need to be managed with the utmost confidentiality.  And where appropriate for your needs, we will always ensure you are aware of the option to be allocated a male or female Solicitor.

Our partnership with Talbot Pierce

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*.

*Please note that fees apply to all consultations. 

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