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Woman who suffered severe workplace sexual harassment and assault receives £200,000 settlement

A woman who experienced serious sexual violence by a senior colleague which caused her psychiatric injury has settled her claim for £200,000.

Posted on 05 June 2023

The sexual violence suffered by the woman, who we have called “Ms B”, was very serious and took place over a prolonged period of time. The perpetrator was a senior colleague of Ms B and used his position and authority to create opportunities to harass and assault her.
There was concern that the employer operated a culture that allowed the perpetrator’s abusive and bullying behaviour towards Ms B, and other members of staff, to go unchallenged. Ms B did try to alert her manager and other colleagues to the fact that she was being targeted by the perpetrator, but their response was ineffective.
The claim was brought as a personal injury claim, but Leigh Day’s employment team also assisted Ms B to negotiate the end of her employment relationship with the employer.
Leigh Day partner and conducting solicitor, Alison Millar, commented:
“This was an appalling case of sexual harassment. The medical evidence obtained showed that Ms B sustained a severe psychiatric injury, from which she is still recovering.
“I hope that the settlement allows Ms B to access the specialist trauma-focused treatment that is so important for her to make a recovery. Sexual harassment and misogyny in the workplace must never be tolerated. If the perpetrator’s comments and behaviour, which demonstrated a lack of respect towards women and a general attitude that he “ruled the roost” and could do what he liked, had been challenged at an early stage by the employer, then an enormous amount of suffering could have been avoided, as well as reputational damage for the employer and the need to pay this substantial settlement for the damage caused.”
Ms B said:

“I am so grateful for all the team at Leigh Day. They worked tirelessly for me, always answering my anxious questions, so sensitive to my situation. There was always open communication, I had the reassurance I needed whenever I needed it.
“The whole process of the personal injury claim was long and hard and took a toll on my mental health due to the nature of the claim, but I felt so supported especially by Alison. She went above and beyond the job of a lawyer to make sure I never felt guilty or regretful for speaking out. 
“Josephine was kind and sensitive to my family when they provided statements. They never felt judged. She was balanced and professional in an emotionally charged situation and that is what you need when providing a statement like this.  
“When I decided to pursue legal action I thought the chances of being successful were little to none. As I got to know the team, my hope did grow little by little but I still cannot believe I am here today finishing my case with a success. Thank you to everyone at Leigh Day.”

Alison Millar
Abuse claims Human rights

Alison Millar

Alison Millar works in the human rights department at Leigh Day, where she is the head of abuse claims

Josephine Whitehouse
Abuse claims

Josephine Whitehouse

Josephine is a trainee solicitor in the abuse team

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Abuse and exploitation claims

Acting on behalf of those who have suffered abuse