Two sisters, Kirstie and Courtney McKeever, have settled sexual harassment claims against fast food restaurant KFC in Belfast.
Both girls were forced to resign from their jobs at the fast food restaurant on the Boucher Road, Belfast after their complaints to their employer that they were being sexually harassed by a male co-worker did not end his behaviour towards them.
They alleged that their co-worker touched and pinched them despite being asked to stop doing so, and that he exposed himself and used overtly sexual language towards them.
The sisters say they reported the incidents to supervisors and managers but his behaviour continued. Courtney spoke of the inaction of her employer on BBC’s Good Morning Ulster programme:-
“They kept saying they would deal with it, but they never really did. They actually told me at one point that they were going to sack him but they didn’t and it went on for a few months after that.”
The sisters felt that they had no choice but to give up their jobs. They subsequently took a case against Herbel Restaurants, trading as KFC, and received compensation of £14,000 and £16,000 respectively. The male co-worker against whom the complaints were made was dismissed.
Sexual harassment can occur when your employer, fellow employee of even a third party such as a customer or client behaves in an offensive manner towards you because of your sex.
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.
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 sexually harassed or discriminated against?
If you have been the victim of sexual harassment or 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.