Sexual harassment is largely governed by the Employment Equality Act, 1998, which outlines that sexual harassment can be any act of physical intimacy, any express request for sexual favours or any other act or conduct including spoken words, gestures or the production, display or circulation of written words, pictures or other material, where such behaviour is unwelcome and could reasonably be regarded as sexually, or otherwise on the gender ground, offensive, humiliating or intimidating. Employers should be aware that they may be liable for such harassment if perpetrated by a fellow employee of the victim, the employer themselves or a client/business contact of the employer in circumstances where the employer ought reasonably to have taken steps to prevent such harassment. Employers should also adopt a written statement/policy on harassment in the workplace in line with relevant codes of practice and take steps to ensure that employees are familiar with the terms of that policy.
Recently a new employer’s Code of Practice on dealing with allegations of harassment and sexual harassment in the workplace was introduced, known as S.I. 208 of 2012 Employment Equality Act 1998 (Code of Practice) (Harassment) Order 2012. All employers are advised to familiarise themselves with this Code of Practice as it provides guidance on how to prevent such forms and harassment and respond accordingly if such harassment occurs.