Employee slapped on bottom by ruler wins sexual harassment case

A woman in Northern Ireland has settled a sexual harassment case with her employer after a male manager slapped her on the bottom with a ruler.  The woman, who cannot be named, has received a £90,000 pay out following the incident and a subsequent investigation in which she claimed the employer made disparaging and false remarks about her.

She claimed that, during a meeting in 2021, a male manager told the woman to stand up and turn around before hitting her on the bottom. The manager allegedly laughed and said, “I’m sorry, I had to”.

Another man was in the room. The woman looked at him and asked, “Is that allowed?”. She claimed both men treated the incident as a joke and told colleagues about it. The woman told her employer that she would not return to work until the matter was addressed. The manager who slapped her subsequently resigned from the organisation.

It was found that the employer did not acknowledge her grievance for 10 days. The investigation took five weeks to conclude and, while her grievance was upheld, she claimed the outcome letter contained disparaging remarks about her. When she appealed against the content of the letter, her employer raised concerns about her behaviour at work, including claims she dressed and behaved in a provocative manner, which she denied.

The woman and the employer have settled the case out of court. As part of the agreement, the organisation will work with the Equality Commission to ensure it has sufficient policies on sexual harassment and training for managers and staff.

The UK government has confirmed that it will introduce a mandatory duty on employers to protect workers from harassment at work.  121 HR Solutions will keep their clients abreast of changes to legislation as part of their HR Business Partnership service but any questions call 0800 9995 121 where a qualified CIPD Consultant can assist.

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