Sexual Harassment Judgments by British Employment Tribunals 1995–2005: Implications for Claimants and their Advocates


  • Patrice Rosenthal and Alexandra Budjanovcanin are at King's College London.


This article reports on the first large-scale study of sexual harassment litigation in Britain based on analysis of official case records. Its aim is to identify key factors distinguishing successful and unsuccessful claims. Five themes drive the analysis: credibility and its construction, the various types of sexual harassment, power resources, the time period in which the case was heard, and the gender composition of the tribunal. Hypotheses are tested on a random sample of 183 cases heard between 1995 and 2005. Some important disconnections between workplace realities and the operation of the tribunal system were revealed. Credibility of claimants turns importantly on how they initially reacted to the harassment of which they later complained and on the number of complementary claims they bring. Workers in elementary occupations experience a lower success rate before tribunals. Power resources in the form of legal representation significantly affect case outcomes. Implications for claimants and their advocates are discussed.