Reported in the Daily Mail (6.8.2014), Jennifer Newman was awarded £29,525 plus legal costs of £12,897 for being dismissed after she reported to HR details of sexual harassment against her by the Managing Director of the Company. In this particular case, the Managing Director's wife was also employed at the Company, meaning that Mrs Newman not only had to deal with the sexual advances of her boss but also the wrath of his wife.
So what can a HR Representative do in this situation to avoid a claim? Please subscribe to find out.
First and foremost once a protected disclosure has been made against an Employer, it must be taken very seriously and the correct procedure must be followed. Please click here for a draft Disclosures in the Public Interest Policy for the full procedure. Disclosures in the Public Interest Policy. If a HR Representative is placed in a difficult situation such as Mrs Newman's case above, they should advise the Managing Director of the risks involved in dismissing someone who has made a protective disclosure. As Mrs Newman did the correct thing and reported her grievance to HR, they should have investigated her claims quickly and confidentially, potentially stopping any further harassment from the Managing Director and allowing Mrs Newman to continue in her job.
In this case, it was found that the Managing Director's wife was holding Mrs Newman's Personnel file whilst arguing with her husband, which may have gone some way towards the tribunal awarding a higher figure of compensation. It may have not been possible for HR to stop the dismissal of Mrs Newman in this instance but if HR is placed in this position in future, following the correct procedure and advising of the risks involved may significantly reduce the compensation that a tribunal could award.