Make a Tribunal claim for sexual harassment

Content / trigger warning

How to make a Tribunal claim

You can make a Tribunal claim at no cost to the Employment Tribunal, using the ET1 form. Before you submit your claim, you must contact ACAS, the public body who can help to resolve your claim through Early Conciliation. You can write your particulars of claim using our ET1 Particulars of Claim template.

This guide will walk you through making a sexual harassment claim.

How to complete Section 8.2 of the ET1 form

The ET1 form will ask in section 8.2 for the background and details of your claim. The best way to approach this is to write your Particulars of Claim (called a Paper Apart if you are in Scotland). This is where you lay out what happened, what legal claims you’d like to make and your reasoning. 

This section is the heart of your Tribunal claim and is very important and difficult to change later on, so it’s worth spending some time to make sure it’s clear.

How to create your particulars of claim:

  1. Write your ET1 section 8.2

    You’ll normally do this by creating a separate document called the Particulars of Claim (or Paper Apart in Scotland). This sets out the background and details of your claim. Valla offers step-by-step guidance to help you make sure your claims are clear and laid out in the right way.

  2. Convert the file to Rich Text Format (RTF)

    Convert your file to RTF and attach it to the online ET1 form. If you’re not sure how to do this, you can purchase Valla’s Peace of Mind Check and we will sort this out for you.

  3. Submit your ET1 form

    Wait for the Tribunal to acknowledge your claim. They will also send a copy to the Respondent, who will have 28 days to respond.

Specific things to consider in your sexual harassment claim

Laying out your claim

You can claim sexual harassment at Tribunal in two different circumstances. The first is where you have experienced unwanted conduct of a sexual nature, which violates your dignity or creates an offensive or hostile environment. For example:

  • An employer who displays any material of a sexual nature, such as a topless calendar, could make the workplace an offensive place to work for any employee, regardless of gender. 
  • Male members of staff download pornographic images on to their computers in an office where a woman works. The effect of this is to create a hostile and humiliating environment for her. 

The second is where you have been treated less favourably because you have either submitted to or rejected sexual harassment, or harassment related to sex or gender reassignment. For example:

  • A shopkeeper propositions one of his shop assistants. She rejects his advances and then is turned down for promotion which she believes she would have got if she had accepted her boss’s advances. 

With sexual harassment, your employer can be liable for the acts of its employees, as well as the employees being personally responsible.

It’s important to be aware that sexual harassment is different from harassment related to the protected characteristic of sex

Proving your claim

You don’t need to attach evidence to a Tribunal ET1 claim, but it’s a good idea to back up your claims by mentioning the evidence you intend to use. For sexual harassment claims, people typically refer to evidence such as text messages, emails, letters, meeting notes and witness evidence.

What you can ask for in your sexual harassment claim

If you’re successful in a Tribunal claim, you will be awarded a “remedy”. This mainly includes financial compensation, like loss of earnings. It can also include some non-financial remedies too.

Common remedies people ask for at Tribunal

Some of the key remedies you can ask for at Tribunal are:

  • The money you have lost from being out of work, or working in a lower-paid job.
  • The money that you expect to lose in the future from being out of work, or working in a lower-paid job.
  • Wages that you are owed, including holiday pay and notice pay.

Discrimination-specific remedies

As well as the common remedies that you can ask for, discrimination-specific claims also have the option to include an “injury to feelings” remedy. This is compensation which you can be awarded when you have been hurt or distressed because you have been discriminated against.

Injury to feelings is generally awarded within one of three “Vento bands” depending on severity:

  • for less serious cases - £1,200 to £11,700
  • for more serious cases - £11,700 to £35,200
  • for the most serious cases - £35,200 to £58,700

For example, Ellie’s boss, the Managing Director of the company, sexually harassed her on multiple occasions. This included inappropriate behaviour at business dinners and during a business trip where they had to share an apartment. She was awarded £20,000 plus interest for injury to feelings. The Tribunal acknowledged the stress and sleep deprivation caused by her being harassed.

Real sexual harassment cases you can learn from

Summary: an employee was sexually harassed by her boss when he phoned her one evening and made extremely explicit remarks. 

Total award: £26,730.40 plus interest

Outcome: the Tribunal found liability for both the company (of which the boss was a director) and the boss himself. 

Summary: a barmaid was sexually harassed by her boss, the Managing Director. The harassment included comments as well as unwanted physical contact.

Total award:  £28,000 plus interest for the sexual harassment part of her claim

Outcome: her employer and the Managing Director were both held responsible for the sexual harassment. She was also successful in other claims, including constructive dismissal.

Further reading

Related Tribunal claims 

If you’ve faced sexual harassment at work, there are potentially a number of other discrimination claims that could apply to you:

  • Victimisation - where you’ve been treated badly because you made or helped with a discrimination complaint.
  • Harassment - where you’ve been subjected to behaviour that relates to a protected characteristic and is unwanted. This behaviour must make you feel, or be intended to make you feel intimidated, degraded, or offended.
  • Indirect discrimination - where a company policy or practice negatively affects a group of people who fall under the protected characteristic you are claiming. 
  • Discrimination arising from disability (note that this only applies to disability) - where you’ve been treated unfairly because of something connected to your disability rather than the disability itself. 
  • Direct discrimination - where you’ve been treated badly because of a protected characteristic.  
  • Failure to make reasonable adjustments (note that this only applies to disability) - where your employer has failed to make a reasonable change to help you to do your job, or apply for a job, to reduce the impact of your disability.

You may also be able to make a claim for unfair dismissal, constructive dismissal or another type of employment law. You can download your free Action Toolkit to find out more.