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From Hollywood to Halifax: harassment at work is all too common

View profile for James Hodgson
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Recent media coverage about harassment in the workplace has served as a sombre reminder of a problem which, despite legal protection and the best efforts of many responsible employers, remains all too common.

Harassment at work is alarmingly common

According to a recent survey  - commissioned by the BBC in the wake of revelations about disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein - half of British women and a fifth of men have been sexually harassed either at work or at a place of study.

As an employment law solicitor, I handle cases of discrimination and harassment at work on a daily basis. Sadly the problem is much more widespread than most people realise, a fact due largely to the reluctance of victims to report cases for fear of losing their job.

What is harassment at work?

Harassment at work can take many forms, but basically means any unwanted or unwelcome behaviour which is intended/ has the effect of either:

  • violating your dignity or
  • creating a hostile, intimidating, degrading, offensive or humiliating environment.

This might be:

  • spoken or written words
  • abuse or threats
  • offensive emails or comments on social networks
  • jokes, teasing or pranks
  • physical behaviour (including gestures and/or facial expressions)

Importantly, the harassment does not have to be directed at you, for example if colleagues make comments to each other which are within your earshot.

What to do if you experience harassment at work

The Citizens Advice website provides helpful information and guidance on harassment at work but if you’ve reached the stage where you need legal advice, remember two things: you are not alone and you can do something about it.

You’ll find me at our Halifax office - please call 01422 339 600 or email me at



Find out more about Wilkinson Woodward's employment services.