The NHS has reported that over the last five years, it has received over 20,000 complaints from its staff in relation to sexual harassment. This includes claims relating to sexual misconduct by staff, patients and visitors. Employees and workers are protected from harassment under the Equality Act 2010. Harassment, for the purposes of employment law, is defined as: Conduct which is unwanted by the victim, which has the purpose or effect of violating the victim’s dignity or creates an environment that is intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive to the victim. It is very important to note that in cases of harassment, the intention of the conduct does not matter and that the importance is on the effect of the conduct on the victim. Claims of harassment must usually relate to a protected characteristic, however, the Equality Act 2010 provides for separate protection against conduct which is of a sexual nature. This type of harassment does not need to be in any way related to a protected characteristic. Employers may be found to be vicariously liable for acts of harassment committed by their employees and also for acts of harassment committed by third parties in some cases. If an employee raises a complaint in respect of harassment or you would like to discuss ways in which you can mitigate the risk of being liable for such conduct, please do not hesitate to contact the employment team at Buxton Coates Solicitors.
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