Advice

Could HR solve...? Love Actually

12 Dec 2017 By Marianne Calnan

An employee loses her job after being sexually harassed by a prominent politician

The problem

Prime minister David has fallen in love with his catering manager, Natalie. But after ignoring inappropriate comments from the visiting US president about her appearance, he catches the pair in what he believes to be a compromising clinch – and asks for her to be moved into a new role away from his office.

The solution

The prime minister has reacted rashly and ignored the real issue – that Natalie has been sexually harassed in the workplace and deserves to have the incident investigated, says Nicola Rowledge, people director in the executive team at Nutmeg.

“HR should ask Natalie exactly what happened,” says Rowledge. “She needs to have an open and frank conversation with HR, even if she does not want any formal action taken against the president.

“She should be asked what action she’d like taken to change the hostile working environment.” This might include an undertaking that she will not have to work with the president.

David needs to be bold about action with the president – a conversation should be the bottom-line action, says Rowledge. He needs to commit to following up with Natalie and to creating a culture free from harassment for her, and then he needs to make sure it happens.

What’s not acceptable is to move Natalie into another role rather than deal with the issue. That could lead to a claim for constructive dismissal, Rowledge warns.

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