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    « Landmark ruling on exclusion of disabled students | Main | How inclusive is your organisation? »
    Sunday
    Sep302018

    Student awarded £16k in sexual harassment case

    A 17-year-old student receptionist at a Pizza Hut Delivery branch in east London has been awarded £15,800 after winning a claim of sexual harassment. This case raises interesting challenges for education and training providers when organising for their students, work experience, work placements or apprenticeship programmes. For example, how do you carry out a robust E&D assessment of practice for new employers that you engage with, in the same way that you carry out a health and safety assessment of practice? How do you communicate your vision, values and expectations in relation to equality and diversity with employers? How do you get feedback from students on their experience in relation to E&D?

    From February 2017, the student began working with a new manager, Sultan Tanha. On one occasion when Tanha had leftover cheese and toppings on his hands, he shook the food on to her face and clothes. At other times, he would try to hold her hand but when she tried to move away he would still attempt to make physical contact, coming up behind her and whispering in her ear. When challenged and asked why he was standing so close, he would say that she was “crowding him”. In May 2017 Tanha found an excuse to hug the claimant, taking hold around her waist in the region of her hips, looking her up and down and walking off. Subsequently, she said she was singled out, told not to talk others and had shifts cancelled at short notice.

    Judge Catrin Lewis accepted the claimant’s account and that Tanha’s actions were unwanted conduct of a sexual nature. She said this created an environment that was “intimidating, hostile and humiliating” for the claimant, particularly given her age, that she was still at school and in her first job.

    The judge awarded £13,000 for injury to feelings. She did not find sufficient evidence of any clear policy or procedure for dealing with sexual harassment and conduct in the workplace and applied an extra 15% because of failings in the business’s handling of the claimant’s grievance. Further compensation was added for loss of earnings and interest.

    This case raises interesting challenges for education and training providers when organising for their students, work experience, work placements or apprenticeship programmes. For example:

    • How do you carry out a robust E&D assessment of practice for new employers that you engage with, in the same way that you carry out a health and safety assessment of practice? Or do you take a ‘tick box’ approach. It should be borne in mind that Health and Safety and Equality and Diversity carry legal requirements with no upper limit to compensation payments for accidents or discrimination respectively
    • How do you communicate your vision, values and expectations in relation to equality and diversity with employers? Does this, for example, feature prominently in handbooks, contracts and agreements?
    • How do you get feedback from students on their experience in relation to E&D?

     

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