Q&A - How does sexual harassment in the workplace get dealt with when the workplace is home?!

Q:    When the first coronavirus lockdown began everyone in our department was asked to work from home and we have continued to do this. However, I am getting stressed because my line manager has become ‘over-friendly’, especially in one-to-one zoom meetings. His recent behaviour could even be termed ‘suggestive’. I have tried, very politely, to ward him off, but he says he is just building a close relationship with me so that he can give me a good report that will help if the firm makes redundancies. Working from home there are no witnesses, it is just my word against his. Could I record our conversations as proof?

A:    Even though you are working from home, your employer still has a responsibility for your health and safety, which includes protecting you from harassment of any kind. Under normal circumstances, neither an employer nor an employee has the right to record meetings covertly without the consent of the other party. However, these are not normal circumstances and employment tribunals have been known to allow recordings to be used as evidence in certain situations and circumstances.

A tribunal will not automatically exclude secret recordings, and many an employer’s defence has collapsed because such evidence has been declared admissible. So if you are experiencing sexual harassment whilst working from home you should keep a detailed record of the harassment or discrimination, together with a file of relevant emails. You can take pictures or screenshots of all the communications and if you are using a video chat platform that allows you to record conversations, then do record them.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies and organisations have sensibly updated their internal anti-sexual harassment policies to reflect the additional risk of sexual harassment whilst employees are working from home. You should check whether this is the case with your employer and, if necessary, seek advice from an employment lawyer.

Article 11/01.2021

This question has been answered by James Denton, a Solicitor with GHP Legal.  If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter it is still possible, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that we continue to offer our high levels of service to our clients.  In accordance with government guidelines, most of our lawyers are currently working remotely which means you may not now receive a response as promptly as you may expect. Please kindly bear with us and we will respond as soon as we are able.

Where possible, we ask that you communicate with us by phone or email. If you have a new enquiry, please use the ‘Contact us’ form on the website or call Oswestry 01691 659194 or Wrexham 01978 291456. As a firm, you will appreciate that we are still extremely busy, and whilst our colleagues are well equipped to work remotely, due to current circumstances work may be interrupted – however cases are still ongoing and will be prioritised by urgency and need. Stay safe and thank you for your support.

James Denton

James Denton

Solicitor

Solicitor in our Civil Litigation and Conveyancing departments in our Oswestry & Wrexham office.

Robert Williams

Robert Williams

Partner

Partner and Head of the Civil Litigation, Personal Injury and Dispute Resolution team in Wrexham