Travel businesses need to assess their workplace culture and be prepared to handle allegations of sexual harassment, a leading UK employment lawyer has warned.
Rebecca Thornley-Gibson, partner at law firm Ince & Co, told a travel law seminar hosted by UK travel association Abta: “You need to put in place steps to manage unwanted or welcome behaviour.”
She said the Me Too and Time’s Up movements against sexual harassment had made women much more confident to bring claims and warned: “If an employee harasses a colleague, the employer will be liable.”
Thornley-Gibson insisted: “Employees now are much more aware and feel more empowered to bring claims [for sexual harassment], as do trade unions to support claims.”
She added: “A lot of clients come to us with claims where normally there would have been a settlement [in the past].
“Now they say they going to call out [the accused], not settle – on the grounds that this helps their corporate reputation and they should not pay people for misconduct.”
She warned Abta members: “We are going to see a lot more employers take action – and that includes over workplace ‘banter’, a word that is probably on its way out.”
Thornley-Gibson said: “If you do a workplace risk assessment, you need to do one on workplace culture [as well].”
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