Sexual Misconduct in the Workplace

Advising organisations and individuals dealing with allegations of sexual misconduct and investigations in the workplace

Find out how we can help

"Their commitment, preparation and tenacity set them apart. They are a strong firm. Their various departments work in harmony and deliver the same high-quality work."

Chambers UK, A Client's Guide to the UK's Legal Profession

Allegations of sexual harassment or misconduct can be distressing for both the victim and the alleged perpetrator. When they occur in the workplace, it adds greater complexity and uncertainty.

A single allegation may immediately give rise to interwoven questions about the future of the employment relationship; criminal liability; regulatory responsibilities; and reputation management.  For a suspected employee, an allegation alone may be sufficient to cause significant and lasting career and reputational damage. A mishandled process can also expose an employer to legal risk and reputational damage.  Sexual misconduct allegations can range from sex or sexual harassment to work place relationships with an imbalance of power or status and/or issues of consent.

The steps taken by an employer and a suspected employee in these pressured circumstances can reverberate far beyond the initial examination of a complaint.  Accounts provided in an employment context, whether “informally” or as part of an investigation or disciplinary process, may become admissible in later criminal proceedings.  Conversely, an incorrectly conducted investigation may fatally infect evidence which would otherwise have formed the basis of an independent criminal investigation.

For a suspected employee, the decision as to whether to engage with an investigation can be complex, especially for regulated professionals, where considerations may include:

  • Whether engagement will present the greatest prospect of clearing your name internally and thereby preserving your job;
  • Whether engaging will satisfy your regulator;
  • If it protects your position as a suspect; and
  • How to ensure that any account protects your interests, no matter where the investigation leads.

Employers have the difficult task of navigating an investigation, and possibly a disciplinary process, with potentially wide ranging ramifications, alongside the original grievance raised by the complainant. The organisation needs to consider its legal obligations to all the employees involved, whether the suspect or the complainant(s), and the requirements of any regulator.

Our top ranked Employment, Regulatory and Criminal Litigation lawyers work seamlessly in investigating and advising both organisations and individuals dealing with these issues. Reputation management can also be a key consideration when there are allegations of sexual misconduct, as press interest is common, especially where the individual and/or the organisation are high profile. Our team of Reputation Management lawyers can quickly assess the situation and give strategic advice on courses of action to take in respect of privacy, defamation and data protection issues.

Further information

If you have any questions or require advice concerning allegations of sexual misconduct in the workplace, please email a member of our team in confidence.

Sandra Paul discusses the complexities and challenges of dealing with allegations of sexual misconduct in the workplace

Paper - Non-Disclosure Agreements: One year on

"Their commitment, preparation and tenacity set them apart. They are a strong firm. Their various departments work in harmony and deliver the same high-quality work."

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"Kingsley Napley LLP’s ‘extremely good and highly professional’ reputation management team frequently supports its criminal and regulatory practice in cases involving high-profile individuals."

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