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What To Do If You’ve Been Accused of Sexual Harassment at Work

In recent years, accusations of sexual harassment have been taken more and more seriously, partially as a result of reports of high profile cases in the media that have revealed something of the scale of the current problem globally. Because of this, tougher procedures are being put in place to both prevent and punish the offence in question – both in the workplace and by the law.

If you’ve been on the receiving end of accusations of sexual harassment in the workplace, the first step you must take is to seek expert legal advice to aid in your defence and fight against any disciplinary or court action that may follow. DPP Law employ specialist solicitors with lengthy experience of successfully defending against sexual harassment allegations. Here is their advice.

What Constitutes Workplace Sexual Harassment?

Whether the alleged victim of the harassment in question feels that the person they are accusing has been paying them unwanted attention with apparent sexual undertones or motives, knowingly touched them inappropriately, caused them to feel violated by making a sexual advance, made sexual comments or jokes, sent inappropriate emails or displayed or passed on images or other media of a sexual nature, they are within their rights to make a complaint.

By definition, sexual harassment involves behaviour that causes a person to:

  • Feel that their dignity has been violated
  • Feel intimidated, degraded or humiliated in a sexual manner
  • Feel that their environment has become sexually hostile or offensive

The spectrum is broad, and accusations are usually based on a person’s perception of certain actions and the apparent intentions behind them.

What Happens if You are Accused of Sexual Harassment at Work?

If a person has been accused of sexual harassment at work, this will be considered serious employee misconduct if the allegations are found to be true.

All employers are required to take such accusations seriously, and every workplace should have investigative procedures in place to work out the facts and decide what action to take. These procedures should be made clear to all employees.

Once a complaint has been made, the accused individual will be informed that an investigation has been opened against them. The investigating body – usually members of the company’s HR department – will then interview potential witnesses and potentially review CCTV and other evidence depending on the manner of the allegations involved.

Those investigating will also conduct an interview with the accused individual to hear their side of the story and allow them to defend themselves. They will then decide how to to take action after carefully considering the facts that have been collected. Often, a lawyer will be consulted to ensure that the resulting decision is fair.

It may be that the accusations are proven to be untrue, however, a person deemed guilty of sexual harassment may receive a verbal warning, a written warning or immediate dismissal for serious employee misconduct, and may also be reported to the police and find themselves the subject of a criminal investigation.

What Do I Do if I’ve Been Accused of Sexual Harassment at Work?

Being accused of sexual harassment at work may not only mean that you lose your job and find it extremely difficult to get another one, but it could also see you tried for indecent assault or harassment in a court of law An individual found guilty of these offences can face up to 14 years in custody depending on the nature of the offence.

The moment you are made aware of an investigation against you, you should make contact with a legal specialist who will help you to decide what you should do next.

If you’ve been accused of making a sexual advance or paying unwanted attention to a colleague, get in touch with DPP Law today. Our specialists will be sure to build the best defence possible on your behalf.