Harassment at Work: UK’s Legal Solutions

By Victoria Howes.

Published by The Diversity Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

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.

Keywords: Harassment, Law

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp.129-138. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.182MB).

Victoria Howes

Senior Lecturer, Salford Law School, Manchester, UK

Victoria Howes, Senior Lecturer in Law, is the Director of Postgraduate Studies and a Programme Leader for MA/LLM Health and Safety Law and Environmental Law. Victoria is responsible for the leadership of the post-graduate teaching and post-graduate research provisions within Salford Law School. In particular these include ensuring that the existing distance learning post-graduate programmes comply with University quality standards; that the programmes are regularly updated and necessary changes are made. Victoria is also a principal leader of the health and safety law and environmental law distance learning postgraduate programme. Victoria also carries out research in the areas of health and safety law, employers’ liability, corporate criminal liability, employment law and related areas and create opportunities for academic enterprise, e.g. by organising and chairing legal update seminars.


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