One of the objectives of the European Community Strategy 2007-2012 on health and safety at work is working towards prevention of harassment at work, which suggests that harassment at work is a widespread problem. The UK current law presents a complicated and disparate picture, one that is little help to victims of harassment. As a rule harassment should be related to a particular ground of discrimination recognised by law. A victim who wishes to bring a claim for harassment at work should demonstrate that he or she has been harassed because of his/her, race, sex, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief, or age. Often therefore victims tend to avoid legal action, worried that disclosure could lead to victimisation. When they do though, they are often in a weaker position than their employer. In order to avoid bad publicity organisations tend ‘to believe’ harassers equipping themselves with defences and qualified lawyers. It is ultimately for tribunals or courts to establish whether particular conduct amounts to harassment and has a detrimental effect on the victim. Not surprising that in many cases courts decide in favour of organisations against employees.
The objectives of the paper are as follows:
•Consider the current UK legal provisions relating to harassment at work and particular problems in applying law into practice
•Discuss strengths and weaknesses of the law and its practical application.
Senior Lecturer, Salford Law School, Manchester, UK
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