Anyone can be a victim of sexual harassment, regardless of their sex and the sex of the harasser. Western Solicitors recognise that sexual harassment may also occur between people of the same sex. What matters is that the sexual conduct is unwanted and unwelcome by the person against whom the conduct is directed.

Western solicitors recognise that sexual harassment is a manifestation of power relationships and often occurs within unequal relationships in the workplace, for example between manager or supervisor and employee. Anyone, including employees of Western Solicitors, clients, customers, casual workers, contractors or visitors who sexually harasses another will be reprimanded in accordance with this internal policy.

All sexual harassment is prohibited whether it takes place within Western Solicitors premises or outside, including at social events, business trips, training sessions, conferences or other events sponsored by Western Solicitors.


The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) defines bullying as offensive, malicious or insulting behaviour. It is an abuse or misuse of power through means intended to undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure you. Bullying tactics can include hostile verbal or nonverbal communication, sabotage, exclusion, manipulation, and psychological or physical abuse.

Bullying behaviour can include:

  • Competent staff being constantly criticised, withholding information or having responsibilities removed or being given trivial tasks to do
  • Shouting at staff
  • Persistently picking on people in front of others or in private
  • Blocking promotion
  • Regularly and deliberately ignoring or excluding individuals from work activities
  • Setting a person up to fail by overloading them with work or setting impossible deadlines
  • Consistently attacking a member of staff in terms of their professional or personal standing
  • Regularly making the same person the butt of jokes
  • Spreading malicious rumours
  • Undermining a person’s self-respect by the treatment that denigrates, ridicules, intimidates, demeans or is physically abusive


Harassment is defined by the Equality Act 2010 as unwanted conduct related to ‘protected characteristics’ that has the purpose or effect of violating your dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for you.

Harassment is also unwanted conduct of a sexual nature which has that same purpose or effect.

The protected characteristics are:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

Bullying and harassment behaviours include when someone:

  • Puts you down or deliberately embarrasses you
  • Makes insulting or offensive comments or jokes
  • Scares you, makes threats or shouts at you
  • Uses insulting words or threatening body language
  • Ignores you or unreasonably keeps you out of meetings or events
  • Stops or blocks you from doing your job
  • Threatens you or commits physical violence
  • Leaves offensive items around your work area

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a particular type of discrimination which is typically defined as unwelcome sexual advances or other verbal, physical or non-physical conduct of a sexual nature in the workplace. This could be used as a factor in decisions affecting some aspect of employment or substantially interfering with an individual’s employment by creating an intimidating or hostile work environment. Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours and other verbal, physical or non-physical conduct of a sexual nature that could constitute sexual harassment when:

  • Submission to such conduct is either explicitly or implicitly made a term or condition of an individual’s employment
  • Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual
  • Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment or otherwise adversely affecting an individual’s employment opportunities.

Examples of sexual harassment include when someone:

  • Makes unwelcome sexual advances or touches you in an intrusive way
  • Makes sexual jokes, suggestive gestures or remarks
  • Unwanted or derogatory comments about clothing or appearance
  • Displays pornographic photographs or drawings around your work area
  • Sends you emails with the material of a sexual nature
  • Asks you on repeated and unwanted social invitations for dates or physical intimacy

In addition, “romantic” or “consensual” relationships, dating or even isolated sexual encounters between senior and junior personnel may constitute or lead to sexual harassment because the junior person involved may not be a willing participant notwithstanding the perception of the senior person or statements of the junior person.

Your responsibility

Everyone is responsible for their own behaviour. You must:

  • Treat everyone with dignity and respect
  • Not bully or harass anyone
  • Not victimise or attempt to victimise anyone who has made complaints of discrimination, or provided information to support a complaint
  • Report incidents to Principal Solicitor if you think they are inappropriate.

Principal Solicitor / Managers / Complaint Handler should make sure that staff reporting to them are aware of this policy.

Principal Solicitor / Manager / Complaint Handler, must take action if he/she becomes aware that bullying, harassment or victimisation is happening. It is not acceptable to say that bullying behaviour is part of your management style.

If the Principal Solicitor / Manager / Complaint handler believes that discrimination is taking place, whether against you or a colleague, it is important that you bring it to our attention in the ways set out in our policy.