Remove employment tribunal fees from sexual harassment claims at work
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When I reported to my male employer that someone at work had made me feel uncomfortable on several occasions, his first response was "well he is male." I had confided in my employer, after weeks of saying nothing to him, for him to just brush off my claim like it was to be expected because "he is male." When he eventually asked me if I wanted him to say anything, I felt silly for mentioning it in the first place because of how he reacted and I said no. Due to various reasons, including that incident, my relationship with my employer was damaged and I left my job. My feeling was that he managed a situation that was a big deal to me, so very poorly. He has also since claimed that I could be making it up. This hurts more than any accusation that could be thrown at me; why on earth would I make something of that nature up?
Since I've left my employment and had time to reflect on how poorly treated I was, I have been looking into employees rights. I was still in my probation period and had no rights or protection whatsoever. So that's that. However, I was astounded to find that since 2013 the government introduced fees of up to £1200 for employment tribunals. Since that time fewer and fewer people are taking their employers to tribunals; there was a 79% fall in the first year with women and low paid workers the worst affected. In that, an 80% fall in women persuing sexual harassment claims.
In 2016 'The Telegraph' reported that ACAS had seen a decrease in the number of sexual harassment claims going to tribunal. That's great right? Wrong. The number of calls regarding this issue had actually risen.
So why are women too scared to take their claim to the next step? It's because they are scared to report sexual harassment to their employer for fear of losing their job or treatment getting worse, they do not think their claims will stand up against their employers or that they will even be believed and then add to that over £1000 of fees. Workers must pay either £160 or £250 to lodge the complaint and then pay a further £950 for a hearing.
Women are already sceptical about reporting sexual harassment so add in a fee, that most likely equates to more than a months wages, and where is the incentive to get justice?
I think it's important to note what sexual harassment at work includes. It can be inappropriate comments or jokes, unwanted touching, hugging or kissing and demands for sexual favours. Even if what has happened seems like it might be trivial, if it is unwanted attention and you're uncomfortable, it IS harassment and it shouldn't be happening.
I am petitioning for cases of sexual harassment at work to go to tribunal for free. I do not want to take away from the seriousness of other employees rights, however, how can anyone be allowed to physically touch or comment on another human being in a sexual manner with absolutely no fear of the consequences? This is happening far too often, more than we even know because we, especially as women, are still too scared to talk about it in fear that it will not be taken seriously.
Please consider this change.
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