“Poor taste” humour held as sexual harassment

Published on: 30/08/2019


A pub manager who was the subject of “poor taste humour” has won her case of sexual harassment in the Sheffield tribunal.

The Claimant had received a final written warning for failing an internal audit and was working with a colleague on improving kitchen standards when he made a sexual innuendo, making her uncomfortable. The same colleague made a second innuendo later than month, which further irritated the Claimant. She resigned citing sexual harassment, but her formal complaint was not upheld.

The Sheffield ET upheld her claim of sexual harassment, ruling that even without “malicious intent”, it was possible for the innuendos to “reasonably be perceived as violating the claimant’s dignity” and resulted in a “hostile working environment”.  They noted that the colleague making such comments was her ‘risk manager’ and was supposed to be supporting her with the improvements following the audit.

The case serves as a reminder to employers that regardless of the purpose of the joke or comment, the focus of the tribunals in such cases is on the effect it has on the person receiving it. 


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