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No funny Valentines; Bosses told to ban flirty day or risk sex harassment claims; EXCLUSIVE.

Byline: AMY SHARPE

FIRMS are being urged to ban Valentine's Day in the workplace - or risk sexual harassment allegations.

With February 14 just round the corner, bosses have been advised to clamp down on cheeky cards and romantic messages in case they lead to employment tribunals.

The move comes in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, reports of shameful scenes at the President's Club charity gala and the banning of promo girls at F1 races and darts.

Business support group ELAS, which issued the advice, admitted it might seem "a bit extreme and killjoy".

But ELAS solicitor Emma O'Leary said: "The potential for a Valentine's card, text or any form of romantic or sexual message to cause offence is very real. Many businesses are actually seeking to ban the day all together.

"Every day headlines are full of reports on sexual harassment which may seem far removed from our own working lives but this couldn't be further from the truth."

Emma, an employment law consultant, added: "On the face of things a Valentine's Day card, flowers or a cheeky comment appear harmless.

Lisa got boss "But there is a very real capability of this turning more sinister and causing offence, which could lead to an employee feeling harassed."

The advice is likely to divide opinion after critics slammed the banning of girls at darts and grand prix events as "too extreme".

Model Kelly Brook accused the Professional Darts Corporation of taking away women's right to make their own choices. She said: "It has probably not even occurred to these PC campaigners that the women might actually like the work."

Last October, a BBC study showed that over half of women have experienced sexual harassment at work. The same month, Manchester biscuit factory employee Lisa Vickers was awarded PS10,000 by an employment tribunal after a boss behaved inappropriately.

Lisa filed a complaint after getting a birthday card from a manager which read: "Lisa it's your birthday, I bet you're thrilled to bits, but not as much as I would be if I could feel your t**s!!"

Last month Parliament launched an inquiry into sexual harassment of women in public places. Late last year a string of high-profile politicians were accused of sexual misconduct at Westminster, with several resignations. Lawyer Emma added: "It's clearly happening and it's something that employers need to take seriously.

"Romance is not dead but it's advisable to keep it out of the workplace."

amy.sharpe@trinitymirror.com

CAPTION(S):

JIBE Lisa got slur from boss

PITFALL An 'innocent' card may cause offence

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 4, 2018
Words:428
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