Christmas party hug resulted in £19,000 award

A woman who was sexually harassed at a work Christmas party was awarded nearly £19,000 for unfair dismissal after she was forced to resign when her colleagues turned on her for complaining about the incident. An employment tribunal heard that the designer and sales consultant was the only woman to attend the company’s Christmas party in its showroom, along with six male employees. When the party moved on to a restaurant, she was subjected to unwanted sexual attention.

The tribunal heard that a colleague made comments about the woman’s breasts and cleavage and hugged her from behind without her consent, suggesting to her that that they might have an affair.

The employee later reported to her line manager that she had been sexually harassed by a male colleague and she lodged a formal written grievance and following this, colleagues ignored her, threatened to ‘take her down’ and used intimidating and abusive language towards her.

The Claimant resigned and was awarded £18,857.18 in compensation after her complaints of sexual harassment and victimisation were upheld.

Had the grievance been properly managed, this situation might never have arisen – but because the employer allowed staff to continue to harass this employee after her grievance was heard, she was constructively, unfairly dismissed and entitled to raise her claim.

If you have any concerns in respect of grievances, or harassment at work, contact us at enquiries@121hrsololutions.co.uk

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