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I'm getting unwanted advances from a colleague. What can I do about it?
Working closely alongside each other day in day out means people often develop strong feelings for co-workers, but this can cause problems when the feelings aren't mutual. If your office admirer won't take no for an answer, it can make things very difficult for you, affecting your well-being as well as your work.
If you feel you are being sexually harassed at work, you should raise it with your line manager and your union rep, if you have one. Keep a careful record of incidents and make sure you keep a copy of offensive text messages and emails.
Ask your manager to follow the company policy for tackling harassment. The first step is to make it clear that the behaviour is unwanted. If you do not feel able to do this yourself, speak to your rep with a view to asking your employer to take this step for you. If the behaviour persists after you have made it clear that you wish it to stop, the perpetrator will be engaging in unlawful harassment and should be disciplined and possibly even dismissed.
You may not be the only one suffering this problem. If so, think about speaking to your rep about the possibility of a collective approach. There is strength in numbers, and you will feel a lot less alone.
If the problem cannot be resolved, you will need to consider putting in a formal grievance and, if necessary, take employment tribunal proceedings.
Harassment is where someone's dignity is violated, or they suffer an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. Harassment on the basis of a protected characteristic is prohibited by the Equality Act 2010 and if the harassment is of a sexual nature, it will amount to sexual harassment.
Some managers will try and excuse cases of sexual harassment as 'just a bit of fun', especially at times like Valentine's Day or at office parties, but they're no fun for the person being harassed, and you shouldn't be expected to just laugh it off if it continues. Behaviour of this sort is unacceptable as well as unprofessional, particularly if people make it clear they don't like it.
If you do need to bring employment tribunal proceedings, note that deadlines in the tribunal are very short indeed, and tribunals very rarely agree to extend these deadlines. If you miss the deadline, your case is unlikely to be heard by the tribunal, no matter how persuasive it is.
For general information on bringing a tribunal claim, including information about Acas early conciliation, see our section on Enforcing your Rights.