Increase in workplace sex discrimination claims, study suggests

Women are increasingly likely to come forward since the start of the MeToo movement, the research shows Credit: PA

The number of sex discrimination claims by workers has increased by 69% to a five-year high, new research suggests.

More than 9,300 claims were made in the past year, with women increasingly likely to come forward since the start of the MeToo movement, said employment lawyers GQ Littler.

Moves by companies to tackle sex discrimination, such as banning alcohol at work-related events, or discouraging hugging, are not preventing claims being made, said the law firm.

Allegations of sexual assault against Harvey Weinstein, one of Hollywood’s most powerful figures, triggered a wide reckoning for men accused of improper behaviour in October 2017.

It quickly spread beyond the confines of the film industry with thousands of women using the hashtag #MeToo to tell their stories of sexual harassment and discrimination.

Weinstein, who denies all allegations of non-consensual sex, is facing a trial in New York on charges of sexual assault.

Hannah Mahon of GQ Littler, said: “The increase in sex discrimination claims will raise questions over whether employers are doing enough to stamp out inappropriate behaviour in the workplace.

“It’s clear that more needs to be done to eliminate discrimination. However, some rules, such as those that prohibit social interactions between members of the opposite sex, need to be carefully thought through and implemented with care.

“There is a balance to be struck between effective anti-discrimination measures and measures that can marginalise women, for example by excluding them from work-related social activities or making it more difficult for them to receive mentoring.”