We've had a complaint of harassment from one female employee (A) against another female (B), following a work function. As far as we know, both employees are heterosexual. A asked B if she could stay at B's house following the function and B agreed. A also asked B if she could share B's bed (the spare bed had no sheets on). Both A and B were drunk. The following morning A accused B of having made a sexual advances in the middle of the night. B says she cannot recall the incident and seems genuinely upset and embarrassed about the situation. Employee A didn't raise the complaint for five days but has now issued a written grievance. We have suspended B and A has been signed off work with stress. Some senior managers are of the view that we have no alternative but to dismiss B.

Posted in : First Tuesday Q&A NI on 4 May 2010
Emma-Jane Flannery
Arthur Cox

Even though this happened after a work night out (paid for by the company), this allegation happened in B's home and I don't feel that this should be handled as a work dispute. If A is serious about her allegations, I think she should have reported it to the police. Have you any ideas about how we should handle the situation?

I don't envy you having to deal with this. It is a very delicate situation and I have some sympathy with your reaction that this should not be dealt with as a work-related matter.

The key issue here is whether you as an employer could be considered to be vicariously

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Back to Q&A's This article is correct at 22/10/2015
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The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Emma-Jane Flannery
Arthur Cox

The main content of this article was provided by Emma-Jane Flannery. Contact telephone number is 028 9023 0007 or email Emma-Jane.Flannery@arthurcox.com

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