An employment tribunal has awarded £19,500 for injury to feelings to an employee who was subjected to gender harassment. While the harassment was not of the very worst type, there were certain aggravating features which merited a higher award than might normally be expected. The claimant was particularly vulnerable due to her young age and fragile mental health. Also, the perfunctory nature of the employer’s investigation, followed by its protracted and ultimately inadequate way of dealing with the problem magnified the effect of the harassment on the claimant.
That far, there would be no real issue to comment on. However part of the claimant’s vulnerability in this case, apart from her youth and mental health, was her status as a zero hours worker. That too was reflected in the size of the award. The tribunal noted that the employee felt trapped and fearful that her shifts might be reduced if she complained. It may be that in future, tribunals will give more weight to the employment status and security of the claimant when considering to what extent they were vulnerable.
This underlines the fact that workers with zero hours contracts have many of the same rights as permanent employees and these cannot be ignored. Employment contracts and staff processes should be looked at again to ensure that those on casual or zero hours contracts are not treated differently if circumstances like these are to be avoided in the future.
For more information on zero hour contracts or any employment related enquiries contact Philip Sayers on 0800 328 3282 or firstname.lastname@example.org.