House of Commons’ bullying and harassment report published

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Earlier this year, a ‘culture of fear’ was reported on from within the House of Commons, with many women complaining of a bullying and sexual harassment problem. Interviews were carried out with current and former House staff, with the outcomes demonstrating that large numbers of staff members, women in particular, feel like they have no protection from the small minority of MPs who might harass, bully or take advantage of them. In fact, one in five people working at Westminster had experienced, or witnessed, sexual harassment or inappropriate behaviour in the past year. Worryingly, one of the main issues that staff reported was their ability to raise a complaint about the treatment.

This week, Dame Laura Cox QC has published a report highlighting that ‘disturbing’ cases of bullying and sexual harassment have ‘long been tolerated and concealed’ within the Commons. The report says that, although no workplace is immune to this abusive conduct, the ineffective mechanisms for dealing with it make this a particularly difficult case.

These issues give rise to a number of potential employment law claims. Employees are protected from harassment in the workplace, – and they’re also protected from being victimised as a result of complaining about this treatment,  under the Equality Act 2010. This protection exists alongside whistleblowing legislation, which encourages people to report workplace wrongdoing.

It’s not clear yet whether any House of Commons employees have brought  employment claims as a result of being harassed and/or potentially victimised at work.