Sexual harassment and a potential legal case(3 Posts)
I’m shamelessly seeking a little free legal advice regarding a potential employment tribunal. Apologies to do so. Ive also posted in Legal.
Under a freelance ‘contract worker’ contract I recently worked for two weeks for a large, multinational client. To be clear, I wasn’t offered any further work beyond this two weeks. I was told that if I wished to gain more work opportunities I’d need to go through their formal (annual) recruitment process. If I was successful in this I’d then be placed on their ‘permanent’ books as an approved contractor.
On day eight of this contract I began working closely alongside a man who freelances for one of this company’s suppliers. Within (literally) five minutes of meeting me he began sexually harassing me. This went on, and on, and on. I won’t put details here (unless anyone feels its necessary) but it was quite horrible - but only verbal and I wasn’t assaulted.
Being new and feeling slightly embarrassed to raise my head above the parapet (yes I know how that sounds) I felt uneasy raising this with the company. But on day 11 I met with a guy who acts as an ambassador / go-between for this company and new contractors. His role is to mentor and help out newbies like me. So I told him everything and he was very shocked. He went on to report this to the company. Feeling emboldened I then reported the harasser to his company. I was told by the ambassador that I shouldn’t worry because this man (the harasser) would “doubtless be taken off the contact by tomorrow”
That didn’t happen. And the harassment continued (though not as bad). It then transpired that he’d been sexually harassing a number of women (from entirely different companies). One of them tearfully told me after she saw how upset I was one morning. The ambassador guy told me this was the case and that this man was ‘on the company radar’ (note this was said by WhatsApp message). Still nothing changed for my situation (he wasn’t removed from the project I was working on).
I still felt stupidly embarrassed and carried on, figuring I would tough it out. I also reasoned that when I went to the recruitment day it would be raised by them.
By day thirteen I’d confronted this man (on text) and he admitted everything - again by text. He said he’d never do this to another woman again etc etc.
I went to the recruitment day and despite being extremely qualified and experienced and doing a great job over this two weeks (I’m not being biased; the work is graded and I received top grading) I was told that I wasn’t successful and wouldn’t go on their books. Shocked, I asked for feedback and I was given extremely lame and spurious reasons (I can’t prove this but I promise that again I’m not being biased / bitter). I was told this by the exact same woman who the harassment had been reported to (who’d done nothing about it). So much for the sisterhood sad
I’m now feeling stupid and angry and am considering suing. I emailed a letter of complaint and was told that even though the alarm had been raised they didn’t know my name (?!) Note that this would have taken a small simple phone call to find out. They also said that this alarm was raised on day twelve and by day fourteen the contract was over (they stopped short at saying so they figured they’d leave it - but that’s exactly what they were saying).
I’ve now gone from feeling silly and embarrassed to plain cross. I emailed back and said that whether this man was only due to work with me for another two days, two hours, or two minutes I should still have had protection, that they should have acted.
I’ve now triggered an early conciliation process via ACAS. I’m thinking of suing for sexual harassment under the Equality Act. That they knew I was being sexually harassed and didn’t act (their email to me effectively admits this).
I’ve heard that even a temporary contractor can do this. I assume this is true?
However I’ve just seen that the company’s registered business address (on my contract) is in Guernsey. Is this likely to be an issue? Does the Equality Act apply here? Note that their operational office is in London. Everything happens in London (or the states) so this feels very dodgy (though perfectly legal I’m sure).
I really don’t want to be trigger happy / do anything on a whim but I’m genuinely shocked by their attitude and genuinely feel as though they simply want this kind of a problem (me) to go away.
Any advice on the Guernsey thing, on whether I have a case or not (how strong), and the procedural aspects of going to a tribunal (without a solicitor) would be gratefully received.
Many thanks and sorry this is so long.
Can you prove you didn’t get the job because you complained? The onus is on you to prove that before you even have a case
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