Remove the time-limit on sexual harassment claims

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When you are sexually harassed at work, and 52%* of women will be, you only have 3 months less one day to register that potential Equality Act 2010 claim with ACAS.

So if the harassment occurs on 28 January 2018 you only have until 27 April 2018 to register your legal claim with ACAS.

If you fail to do that the Employment Tribunal can subsequently refuse to hear your claim because it is out of time.

The official reason for the "3 month" deadline is that people's memories may begin to fade after that and the evidence may thereby be compromised.

Obviously that was a political lie. If you buy a defective television, or someone breaks a verbal contact with you, you have 6 years to bring that claim. If I drive my car negligently and injure you, you have 3 years to bring that claim. The memory does not fade over those time periods to prevent those claims.  

So in the mind of a politician a woman harassed at work is (24 times) less likely to remember that harassment, and want to challenge it, than buying a defective television. It is more important to society, they think, that the seller of a defective products be challenged than a male predator practising sexual harassment....

Politicians then try to excuse this sexism by asserting, "Yes but if the sexual harassment claim is late, there is a "just and equitable" time extension, which a Judge may choose to allow". However, the time extension discretion exists for personal injury (negligence) claims as well which have a 3 year time-limit. Further, essentially, a harassment claim is actually a form of personal injury claim, in that it is another way to recover compensation for the injury caused at work by the harassment. So the time-limit for negligent personal injury claims should not be 12 times more generous that for a claim of personal injury by sexual harassment.   

The 3 month limit for sexual harassment claims is a deliberate legislative device to prevent such   claims and to disempower victims of discrimination. Every politician knows this. 

I do agree that until we have a non-sexist Parliament, it will be politically impossible for the UK Parliament to support removing the time-limit completely, so my petition is for the Equality Act 2010 to be amended so that the current time-limit of 3 months less one day be replaced with the standard personal injury time-limit, which male (and female) victims enjoy. 

In short, I petition that the current time-limit for sexual harassment claims be increased from slightly less than 3 months to 3 years.

Those who fear the "floodgates opening" need not worry. Although the majority of women will be harassed at work, on average, only 0.01% of victims sue. For example, none of the Presidents' Club victims have sued or are likely to sue. Those who are brave enough to speak up will keep to anonymised accounts. 728 acts of sexual harassment will occur at work before one female victim will formally complain. Currently the male predator knows that he has a 99.99% chance of not being sued for that unlawful conduct, so has very little disincentive not to abuse his power at work. 

Female victims do not sue because: (1) the time-limits are so draconian; (2) the average award is only £12,000; (3) 95% of victims fear further retaliation, rather than praise and support, if they complain (NB: almost all women who complain of harassment at work end up leaving that employment); and (4) of ill-health/lack of confidence (harassment causes feelings of isolation, low self-worth, self-doubt, anxiety and depression).

As respects (4), as Prof Manuela Barreto (Professor of Social and Organisational Psychology) pointed out (at our panel discussion for the NBPA this week), female victims are therefore further victimised by the short time-limit in that they are not given sufficient time to recover their psychological health post-harassment in order to bring a legal claim against the predator.  It takes time to recover. It tales time to find legal representation. Ironically, the greater the psychological damage which is caused by the sexual assault, the less likely the claim will be brought in time. 

Currently, when a Judge says, "Times Up", it has a very different meaning to most victims of sexual harassment.  That must change. 

Please sign my petition and remove one of the main bars to access to justice for sexual harassment victims.

If you want to end sexual harassment at work this is an important step in the #TimesUp journey. You can be part of that.

By the time you have read this petition, another woman will have been sexually harassed at work.

Every two minutes, there are (at least) 3 acts of sexual harassment at work in the UK.       


Lawrence Davies

27 January 2018 

 * - the 52% figure itself is probably incorrect because harassment is massively under-reported


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