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The Cost of Sexual Harassment: Chris Dobbs discusses

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The Cost of Sexual Harassment: Chris Dobbs discusses

Sexual harassment remains, unfortunately, surprisingly common in the workplace and is a major source of internal investigations and legal proceedings against employers.

Businesses should take allegations seriously as the case of National Grid trainee, Emma Tahir, shows.

The case itself was incredibly unusual in that there was not a substantive liability hearing. National Grid accepted liability for constructive dismissal and harassment claims very early on and so the focus of the case was actually on quantifying the award.

In this article, Employment Expert Chris Dobbs takes a look at the details of this case and outlines some takeaways for employers.

Ms E Tahir v National Grid UK Ltd

Ms Tahir claimed that the supervisor of the employer’s trainee scheme, Colin Higgins, frequently contacted her, asked her to remove her jumper, and invaded her personal space.

An internal investigation was carried out after she complained but Mr Higgins remained in role leading Ms Tahir to conclude that she had no option but to resign and face the consequences of not completing the training scheme on her long-term career prospects.

What did the Employment Tribunal rule?

In a lengthy remedy judgement, the Employment Tribunal acknowledged the serious psychological impact as well as the effect on Ms Tahir’s career development.

It was critical of the National Grid’s investigation process, going so far as to call the outcome of the initial investigation “perverse given the evidence”.

She had made a simple outcome of wanting to be kept away from him and even that could not be accommodated by an employer of that size and resources; the Tribunal was understandably not swayed by this.

The reward and its implications

The total award was for £357,004 which included:

  • £40,000 injury to feelings
  • £11,706 in interest alone
  • £56,681 in losses from dismissal to the date of the hearing
  • £73,719 in future losses

This is an exceptionally high award, but it does show the ability of the Employment Tribunal to make significant awards where it is justified in doing so. Tribunals can make payments where the acts of an employer set back or damage an individual’s career.

It is easy to say that a younger employee has a better chance of switching careers and therefore not suffering that loss, but the setback at a younger age (and having to start again, so to speak) can be just as severe for a younger person as someone more progressed in their career.

Chris Dobbs on addressing workplace issues early

Chris Dobbs, who recently stepped up to Associate in our Employment Law Team, said:

“Importantly, many of these issues could well have been remedied by a more robust internal investigation. Whatever was happening as part of that process, the Tribunal did not find it reasonable or sufficient.

Where these issues arise in the workplace, addressing them properly at an early stage can help mitigate potentially enormous cost down the line.”

Employment & HR Solicitors

If you have any questions following this article, or would like to speak to a member of the team, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our bright Employment Experts.

Call us on 01202 499255, or fill out the form at the top of this page, for a free initial chat.

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At Frettens, we offer Employment Training courses for new and experienced employers and HR professionals alike.

These courses vary in topic, focusing on workplace investigations, harassment, disciplinary issues and more.

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The content of this article, blog or video is not intended as specific legal advice. For tailored assistance, please contact a member of our team.