Last reviewed 29 October 2013

A research report by an employment law firm claims that sexual harassment is “rife in the workplace” with six in ten working women having experienced a male colleague behaving “inappropriately” towards them.

The research was based on 1036 women who were polled in the study commissioned by the law firm.

Nearly a quarter of the women said they had experienced a senior colleague making a pass at them at some point in their career.

More than a third of the women surveyed said a senior male colleague had made inappropriate comments about their bodies, sex life, or the clothes they were wearing.

One in six women had been forced to fend off a colleague who tried to kiss them and twelve per cent had a colleague place his hand on her behind.

When it came to inappropriate comments and touching more than half of the offenders were more senior members of staff and two-thirds of women said the inappropriate behaviour came from a married man.

However, despite saying that the behaviour of their colleagues was often degrading and embarrassing, only 27% reported the behaviour to someone senior.

The most common places for women to experienced inappropriate behaviour were at their desk while they were working late, at an office party or in a staff corridor or lift.

Claire Dawson, an Employment Lawyer at Slater & Gordon said, “We deal with some really shocking cases of sexual harassment in the workplace but it’s always surprising to hear how widespread the issue is and how many women don’t feel like they can report behaviour like this.”

According to research on sexual harassment, published by the Equal Opportunities Commission, “Those who have been harassed may experience illness, humiliation, anger, loss of self-confidence and psychological damage.”