E-mail harassment claim settles for £10,000

2003

A woman who discovered nine of her colleagues had circulated obscene e-mails about her has received £10,000 compensation after settling her sexual harassment case against her former employer.

The 37-year-old personal assistant said nine of her workmates had exchanged e-mails of a violent and sexual nature about her.

She discovered the e-mails inadvertently after she was given access to a colleague's e-mail folders while he was on extended leave. She made a formal complaint, which she felt was not treated seriously. Eventually she felt she had no choice other than to resign.

She claimed she was ostracised by her colleagues after she made the complaint. When she informed the office manager that she was being victimised she was told to "imagine how the others feel, some of them are losing their jobs".

The woman received the compensation in an out of court settlement, agreed before her case for constructive unfair dismissal and sexual harassment went before an employment tribunal.

Julie Mellor, chairwoman of the Equal Opportunities Commission, which supported the case, said: "All employers should make their staff aware that sexual harassment can take many forms and can be deeply distressing for the person on the receiving end.

"The fact that comments are made by e-mail doesn't mean they should be treated any less seriously than if they were spoken or written down."