Recruiters warned to clamp down on inappropriate hugging

Recruiters can be held liable if their consultants fall victim to inappropriate hugging in the workplace.

The warning follows BBC reports about retailer Ted Baker, which has launched an investigation in light of 200 members of staff signing a petition against the alleged practices of Ted Baker’s founder Ray Kelvin.

According to workplace campaign website Organise, staff at the luxury clothing retail company have complained about inappropriate behaviour, including hugging, towards both male and female members of staff.

Commenting on the case, Sybille Steiner, partner and solicitor at law firm Irwin Mitchell, warned agencies could be held liable should consultants fall victim to such behaviour in the workplace.

Steiner told Recruiter: “The affected party can bring a claim for sexual harassment against the alleged perpetrator and, in some circumstances, against the employer. If a recruiter employs staff, and the alleged perpetrator is an employee, recruiters could be vicariously liable for their actions. 

“Recruiters under certain circumstances might also be liable for third-party harassers. Recruiters therefore should address any concerns raised by employees accordingly and swiftly.”

Meanwhile Jahad Rahman, partner at Rahman Lowe Solicitors, told Recruiter the case underlines the importance of training of staff. 

“Training is key. Inform employees that touching other staff is not appropriate, however, it does depend on the context. If you’re playing sports, then score, then hugging your teammates is probably not sexual harassment, but it depends on whether it was mutual or just one-sided – making another [person] to feel uncomfortable.”

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