Industrial Tribunal awards £12,293 to a care worker in sexual harassment

19 April 2013

Tribunal make an award of over ?12,000 to a charity worker who was found to have been subjected to sexual harassment.

A female ex-employee of Autism Initiatives NI was awarded £12,293 by an Industrial Tribunal which found that she had been discriminated against on the grounds of her sex, and constructively dismissed.

The Tribunal found that Noeleen McAleenon was harassed by a male co-worker and was subjected to inappropriate contact and derogatory comments about her sex life. She raised the issue with her employer and following an investigation Autism Initiatives NI informed the claimant that he would be disciplined.  Although he was issued with a 12-month written warning, Ms McAleenon was not informed of this and she resigned in the belief her employer had not dealt properly with the issue.

The tribunal found there had been a fundamental breach of contract which was sufficiently serious to justify Ms McAleenon tendering her resignation. The Tribunal also found the constructive dismissal to be unfair as it was bound up with the harassment complaint and therefore amounted to an act of sex discrimination.

In its findings, the Tribunal said "This case illustrates the danger of an employer not being proactive in circumstances where members of staff are known to engage in physical contact; the invasion of someone's space; and to engage in banter which could be construed as sexual harassment,"

This case highlights the importance of Employers ensuring they have the correct procedures in place to avoid costly litigation at Tribunal.  Worthingtons Solicitors advise both Employees and Employers in Fair Employment and Industrial Tribunal matters.  Should you have any queries relating to this article, please submit your enquiry in the form below and a member of our Employment law team will be happy to respond.

 

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