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Sexual Harassment or Bullying? - Advice Needed Please


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Hi,

 

Need a little guidance please. I'm posting this on behalf of my sister who works for a large government organisation.

 

 

She was involved in a relationship with a senior work colleague who is employed in a different section to her and the relationship ended last year. He started bombarding her with texts about how much he loved her and that he hoped she was safe. He then started saying nasty things about her to work colleagues. It really distressed her and started to affect her work, eventually her line manager ended up having to involve her head of department. My sister is terrified of repercussions and doesn't want to be seen as a trouble maker.

 

 

Her head of department, says it's sexual harassment and will deal with it that way. Is this correct as he never made any comments of a sexual nature? I thought it would have been more bullying?

 

 

Just wondered if anyone could shed some light on this please.

 

 

Cheers Dex

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Hi,

 

Need a little guidance please. I'm posting this on behalf of my sister who works for a large government organisation.

 

 

She was involved in a relationship with a senior work colleague who is employed in a different section to her and the relationship ended last year. He started bombarding her with texts about how much he loved her and that he hoped she was safe. He then started saying nasty things about her to work colleagues. It really distressed her and started to affect her work, eventually her line manager ended up having to involve her head of department. My sister is terrified of repercussions and doesn't want to be seen as a trouble maker.

 

 

Her head of department, says it's sexual harassment and will deal with it that way. Is this correct as he never made any comments of a sexual nature? I thought it would have been more bullying?

 

 

Just wondered if anyone could shed some light on this please.

 

 

Cheers Dex

 

Not sexual harrassment based on what you have said.

 

It may not even by considered bullying. It really depends on what evidence is available.

 

In this situation, i would expect both parties to have private meetings ( obviously separate ) with appropriate staff to gather information. It will be done in stages to get either side of the story. Then to have a meeting where any evidence is put on the table, asking for comments. If the evidence is sufficient, her ex boyfriend will face a further disciplinary process. If there is not enough evidence, he will be told be careful about future conduct and to not contact her.

 

Your sister should not be concerned, as she is entitled to make reports where she feels threatened. If however, she has made accusations without evidence to support, it won't be used against her, but the next time she reported anything, she might not be taken seriously, unless she provides definite evidence.

 

She should see how it goes. If she is asked to attend any meetings about this, she should take a trusted colleague.

We could do with some help from you.

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Excellent thank you I'll tell her what you said.

 

 

She has already had to take her phone into the head of department's office and show him the texts. Also he had already seen the Facebook comments her ex had posted about her.

 

 

She can't take her union in with her to any meetings as her ex is her department's union rep so it's a bit awkward, I'll advise her about taking a trusted colleague.

 

 

Cheers Dex

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It sounds like clear sexual harassment to me. Harassment is defined as unwanted conduct which is linked to a protected characteristic which causes an offensive/humiliating/hostile/degrading atmosphere for the individual concerned.

 

When a couple are in a relationship, lovey dovey texts would be welcomed - but not after the relationship ends! At that point, the conduct becomes unwanted - relates to her sex - and creates an uncomfortable atmosphere, so in my view it meets the relevant legal definition.

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It sounds like clear sexual harassment to me. Harassment is defined as unwanted conduct which is linked to a protected characteristic which causes an offensive/humiliating/hostile/degrading atmosphere for the individual concerned.

 

When a couple are in a relationship, lovey dovey texts would be welcomed - but not after the relationship ends! At that point, the conduct becomes unwanted - relates to her sex - and creates an uncomfortable atmosphere, so in my view it meets the relevant legal definition.

 

Depends on the details. The OP's Sister appears to think it is not a sexual issue and she has seen the texts etc.

We could do with some help from you.

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To quote from the OP -

 

"She was involved in a relationship with a senior work colleague who is employed in a different section to her and the relationship ended last year. He started bombarding her with texts about how much he loved her and that he hoped she was safe. He then started saying nasty things about her to work colleagues. It really distressed her."

 

Bombarding her with texts of that nature is legal sexual harassment. Once his advances were declined or ignored, he turned nasty. It distressed her. It clearly meets the legal definition of discrimination/harassment.

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To quote from the OP -

 

"She was involved in a relationship with a senior work colleague who is employed in a different section to her and the relationship ended last year. He started bombarding her with texts about how much he loved her and that he hoped she was safe. He then started saying nasty things about her to work colleagues. It really distressed her."

 

Bombarding her with texts of that nature is legal sexual harassment. Once his advances were declined or ignored, he turned nasty. It distressed her. It clearly meets the legal definition of discrimination/harassment.

 

I get what you are saying and you may well be correct in terms of legal definition. The employers seem to agree with this.

 

It is just that the person making the allegation appears to have done so, not believing it was sexual. The texts appear to have been loving in nature and the sender has obviously reacted to the rejection.

 

These type of situations are always difficult, which is why many companies in the past have not liked people in relationships working in the same companies office.

We could do with some help from you.

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I would agree with Becky's interpretation here.

 

The legal definition is important as the company have a legal obligation to investigate now it is drawn to their attention. Failing to do so means they could become vocariously liable should the victim decide later on in their own mind that it is Sexual Harassment and sue the employer.

 

The company will have to follow the legal definition to protect themselves.

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The SabreSheep, All information is offered on good faith and based on mine and others experiences. I am not a qualified legal professional and you should always seek legal advice if you are unsure of your position.

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I think the text messages are enough tbh

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The SabreSheep, All information is offered on good faith and based on mine and others experiences. I am not a qualified legal professional and you should always seek legal advice if you are unsure of your position.

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I would be just glad the employer takes the matter seriously enough to investigate at all. Best just wait and see what transpires at first and only make a fuss if she comes off worst or the matter is brushed off altogether.

If the manager is given some sort of disciplinary dont expect to hear about it

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well it's all gone a little pear shaped!

 

The department head had a quiet word with her ex, who said he would leave her alone and he only did it because he was missed her. It was all quite for a couple of days then she got a series of ranting texts saying he would destroy her, he phoned from a withheld number shouting down the phone.....my sister is in bits. She terrified she'll bump into him at work and doesn't know whether to update the department head or see if he calms down. It's making her really ill.

 

Personally I think she should say something but she is understandably worried that things will escalate?

 

Anyone got any ideas

 

 

Cheers Dex

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I got a good idea. Go to the police. The guy if found guilty would be looking at a custodial sentence and a restraining order.

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then she should feel free to report the matter to the police. Some constabularies taek this kind of thing very seriously, the Met has a team at Camden who specialise in such matter so if you are in London that might be a good place to start.

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It would really be very good if she went to the police.

 

She might want to also consider calling a helpline. Sometimes it can help a lot to speak with a professional or sharing your experiences with someone who was in a similar situation.

There is a national helpline for anyone who feels threatened by stalking and the people operating this line might be able to give her some additional advice.

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