Facebook used to gather evidence in Midlands sexual harassment case

7th July 2011

In a recent sexual harassment tribunal case, an employee brought a claim against her employer who used Facebook to gather evidence in an attempt to discredit the claim.

Martin de Ridder, employment solicitor at Ansons Solicitors who represented the employee bringing the claim commented: “The case arose as a result of unwelcome comments of a sexual nature to my client from two of her male colleagues which had been made in the presence of her employer's senior management team, and which had not been prevented or adequately investigated. The employer attempted to deny liability on the basis that my client had not taken any offence to the comments and that it had done all that was reasonable to prevent the harassment from taking place.

“The employer used a photograph from my client's Facebook account which it argued demonstrated that my client was not suffering distress from the remarks made.”

The tribunal recorded that the employee's Facebook photograph, which showed her dressed for a summer's day at a dance festival, had no actual value when concluding whether the comments made in the workplace had made the employee unhappy and caused her to feel harassed and distressed.

The tribunal eventually concluded that the incidents complained of did amount to sexual harassment and that the employee had suffered from harassment and distress as a result. 

Martin de Ridder concluded: “This case demonstrates how the internet and social networking websites are increasingly being used to gather evidence. 

“We are pleased with the judgment and believe this sends a clear message to employers that sexual harassment of employees will not be tolerated and that any complaints should be treated seriously and investigated.”