Can you claim for harassment?


If someone is harassing you, either verbally or physically, you may be able to sue.

Basically, when conduct is unwanted and affects the dignity of the person towards whom it is conducted, it may be harassment for which you can claim compensation.

What is harassment?

Harassment may be obvious or it may be insidious. An example of insidious harassment may include the abuse of power over someone in a vulnerable position.

Harassment may be related to:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Race
  • Disability
  • Religion
  • Sexual orientation
  • Nationality
  • Any personal characteristic of the individual

Harassment can occur in a variety of settings, such as:

  • The workplace
  • In the provision of services
  • In education settings
  • Between landlord and tenant
  • Between neighbours

The setting in which the conduct occurred, and the relationship you have with the person, may affect whether or not you would likely have a valid case to sue.

For example, harassment between landlord and tenant is a very common form of harassment. If your landlord is harassing you, approaching your property regularly or without warning, or threatening to evict you, you should speak to a solicitor. A solicitor can advise you on your rights in the situation and the most appropriate course of action.

Harassment at work

Harassment in the workplace is arguably the most common form of harassment of all. It is taken very seriously and falls under the branch of employment law. If your employer, or a colleague, is harassing you, you should speak to a specialist employment solicitor.

They may advise you as to how you should approach your employer, or the alleged harasser, and whether you should proceed through your employer’s grievance procedures, or make a claim at an employment tribunal.

If an employee in your workplace approaches management with assertions of harassment, it is important to respond in a timely and appropriate manner. Not only can harassment claims prove costly to the workplace through its direct and indirect effects, but an employer can be held liable for harassment suffered by their employees in the workplace.

As an employer, you should have in place a policy that outlines the organisation’s stance on harassment in the workplace and the processes for dealing with harassment claims. There should be formal routes for:

  • Communication
  • Levels for dealing with the complaint
  • Timeframes for action

Some possible actions to consider when dealing with harassment claims raised by employees include:

  • Speaking individually with all involved parties
  • Considering mediating between the parties
  • Engaging an impartial, trained investigator
  • Holding a grievance hearing in which both parties are allowed to be accompanied
  • Suspension of the person against which accusations are made on full pay while the investigation is carried out

Action taken against an employee found to have harassed a colleague may include:

  • Counselling or participation in a training program
  • A warning, either formal or informal
  • A period of suspension
  • Transfer to another area of the workplace
  • And dismissal

Harassment can be serious and should not be ignored. If someone’s behaviour towards you is offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting, you should speak to a solicitor to find out what action you can take.

For advice on the next steps, see our information page on harassment lawyers.

Do you want to stop an individual or group from harassing you? Contact Law can put you in touch with a specialist lawyer for the type of harassment you are suffering. Harassment in the workplace is the most common. Please call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form above.

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