Huge compensation pay out for harassed employee after “shambolic” grievance

An employee has been awarded £74,000 in compensation (including a “significant sum” in injury to feelings and aggravated damages) following her tribunal claim against Highways England, her line manager and her supervisor.

The employee claimed that harassment began the day she was interviewed for the job of Highways Inspection Driver and continued over a period of months. This included numerous sexual advances and physical contact from her line manager and pressure to begin a romantic relationship, She was then subjected to further harassment by his friend, her supervisor, when she began the role.

The line manager also told her that a reference from previous employers was “not good”, but that he would sort it for her. However it was revealed during the tribunal that no poor references had been received.

The employment tribunal found that she had been the victim of numerous acts of harassment and also criticised the grievance and grievance appeal procedure carried out by the employer, describing the grievance procedure as “atrociously poor” and “shambolic”.

When she did raise a grievance the employer refused her request to move depots, despite upholding her complaint. When her appeal against this decision was refused, the Claimant felt she had no alternative but to resign.

Yet again this case emphasises the need for employers to be familiar with the recent Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) guidance, Sexual harassment and harassment at work.

Employers are responsible for ensuring that their workers and employees do not suffer harassment and must take “reasonable steps” to protect their workforce.

As the case demonstrates, the cost of getting it wrong for the employer can be extremely high, both in personal and financial terms. If you require any advice in respect of equality or harassment in the workplace, please contact enquires@121hrsolutions.co.uk.

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