The relaxed social atmosphere and high levels alcohol consumption that occur during work Christmas party season can result in unusual and unwanted behaviour and actions. These can range from aggressive behaviour to something more serious, such as cases of harassment or discrimination.
In particular, research shows that post-party sexual harassment complaints are at an all-time high during the Christmas period.
Sexual harassment is unwanted conduct of a sexual nature.
It has the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them.
Something can still be considered sexual harassment even if the alleged harasser didn’t mean for it to be. It also doesn’t have to be intentionally directed at a specific person.
Common sexual harassment complaints can include:
Some types of sexual harassment, such as sexual assault and other physical threats, are a criminal matter as well as an employment matter.
Criminal matters should be reported to the police.
If a complaint is reported to police, or criminal court proceedings are being pursued, an employer must still investigate the complaint as an employment matter. An employer may then follow its disciplinary procedure, without awaiting the outcome of criminal proceedings, provided this can be done fairly.
You must seek legal advice immediately. Your legal team will then be able to advise you on next steps, these will include:
It is very important you cease all contact with the complainant and anyone connected to the complainant.
Reasonable steps employers can take to prevent discriminatory or harassing conduct can include:
Before a Christmas party, employers can send a simple email to all, gently reminding them of appropriate behaviour, directing their attention to their company policies and procedures.
Garrick Law wishes everyone a festive, safe time this Christmas party season. For further advice on sexual harassment please click here.
If you have been accused of sexual harassment or assault, please click here to talk to a member of our dedicated criminal team, or contact us via phone on 020 3196 7822 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org