LIFE BITE: Sexism at Work

apple-150579_1280There has been much comment in the media in recent weeks on allegations of sexism in the workplace.   

When Charlotte Proudman, a UK human rights barrister received a LinkedIn message from Alexander Carter-Silk, a senior partner at a law firm, praising her on what he called her ‘stunning’ profile picture, she responded by telling him she found his message offensive and adding that she was using LinkedIn for business purposes, rather than to be  “objectified by sexist men”.

Ms Proudman linked the incident to what she saw as a larger issue of sexual harassment in her profession and posted the comment made onto her Twitter account causing a social media wave of opinion.

In other news this week, Ms Dalal Belghiti, a former City trader, is taking legal action against her former employer, the US investment bank Jefferies, claiming that she was discriminated against on the grounds of her sex and exposed to sexist behaviour on the trading floor which caused her to leave her job.  She is seeking £3.5 million in compensation from her former employer.

What is sex discrimination in the workplace?

Sexism, or sex discrimination, can take many forms in the workplace. It can be direct, indirect, deliberate or accidental. For example, it can occur when you are treated differently or less favourably than a member of the opposite sex. It can also occur where you are put at a disadvantage because of your gender due to certain provisions, criteria or practices that your employer has.

Sexual harassment can occur when your employer, fellow employee of even a third party such as a customer or client behave in an offensive manner towards you because of your sex.

Employers who do nothing to stop sex discrimination in their businesses may themselves be held legally responsible for this discrimination.

What should I do if I have been discriminated against?

If you have been the victim of sexual discrimination in your workplace, or indeed if you have been discriminated against at work in any way, you should seek legal advice on the procedure that needs to be followed to resolve the matter. If the matter is not resolved satisfactorily by your employer, you may be able to seek compensation through the Industrial Tribunal.

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