I worked with a large City Council, employing 8000+ staff, in health and social care, neighbourhood’s, corporate services and children and young people’s services.
An existing female employee was appointed into a new role as social worker. She initially developed a good working relationship with her new manager and team. After a few months of working, her line manager, who was male began becoming over-friendly, leering at her across the offices, and regularly would touch her inappropriately. He also was over-familiar when speaking with her, even making indecent jokes. On several occasions, he had sent emails, which she found had an inappropriate content.
She tried to raise her concerns initially informally, but she was not happy with the outcome, and felt victimised and the inappropriate behaviour towards her continued. Her GP signed her off work, siting workplace stress as the reason for her sickness. She was off work for an initial two months.
The situation quickly escalated to a formal complaint and an investigation needed to commence in order to reach a resolution and in order for her to return and feel safe in the workplace again.
- discussed with senior managers the employee’s rights and entitlements, outlining the possible risks should the grievance fail to be investigated and resolved
- provided advise on suspension and reinstatement
- guided senior managers on the investigation process and disciplinary procedures in line with policies
- carried out a thorough and fair workplace investigation
- liaised with trade union representatives
- produced all bespoke letters and a detailed investigation report to be used in any disciplinary process
- provided HR support for the disciplinary process
During the disciplinary meeting, the manager was found to have carried out inappropriate behaviour of a sexual nature and had continued to harass the employee. The manager was dismissed and the employee soon returned to work and is much happier in the new role.
One of the lessons learnt from the process was that management and employees needed further training to help them understand sexual harassment and how it impacts on individuals and the workplace. Sexual harassment training was provided and there have been no cases since.