What can I do if I’ve been sexually harassed at work?
Question & AnswerWhat can I do if I’ve been sexually harassed at work?
3. Learn about constructive dismissal
Sometimes, being forced out of a job is the same as being fired. The law calls this .
You might be forced out of your job if your employer breaks your employment contract in a serious way. If your employer does not stop sexual harassment, they're breaking your employment contract.
An employment contract does not have to be in writing. As long as you're an employee, you have a verbal contract with your employer.
If you're forced to leave your job because your employer refused to do anything when you were sexually harassed, the law treats this like you've been wrongfully fired. This means you can sue your employer for .
You must leave your job before claiming constructive dismissal.
Usually, you cannot claim constructive dismissal if the happens only once. But sometimes you can, for example, if the harassment was serious and your employer refused to do anything about it.
What you can do
If you were constructively dismissed, you can ask the court or the Ministry of Labour for compensation. This means that they'll order your employer to pay you money.
If you go to court, you often get more money. But it usually takes longer and can be more expensive because you'll probably have to pay a lawyer to help you.
If you go to the Ministry of Labour, you may get less money. But you usually get it faster.
Constructive dismissal is a complicated area of law. It's important to talk to a lawyer and get legal help.
For more information about whether to go to court or the Ministry of Labour, read Can I sue my former employer in court?
If you’re in a union
If you belong to a , you cannot quit your job and claim constructive dismissal. You have to speak to your union about filing a .
Making more than one claim
If you've been sexually harassed at work, you can also make a human rights claim. This is explained in Step 4.
If you want to make a constructive dismissal claim and a human rights claim at the same time, you must go to court. The Ministry of Labour does not deal with complaints about human rights.