Success story: Bullying and sexual harassment in the Royal Navy
We sadly hear from servicewomen who have been subject to sexual harassment during their military service far too often. The Defence Committee launched an inquiry in December 2020 to look at the experience of servicewomen in the military from recruitment to resettlement. The Sub-Committee heard evidence from over 4,000 servicewomen and the results of the inquiry showed that sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination towards women in the military is alarmingly high. 64% of female veterans and 58% of currently-serving women reported experiencing bullying, harassment and/or discrimination during their military careers.
Sexual harassment may cause the victim to suffer significant distress and long lasting psychiatric injuries which can impact on them and their career for the rest of their lives. For those serving in the military this can often lead to being medical discharged. When this happens, we are able to help those suffering to make a financial claim to include lost income, benefits and pension.
Since working at Bolt Burdon Kemp, I have been involved with a number of claims that involve bullying and sexual harassment and would like to share one of our success stories with you. We recently acted for a client who suffered from bullying and sexual harassment during her training for the Royal Navy.
Our client had her heart set on a career in the military having had family members also serve. Our client did well in her basic training and felt positive about her future career. However, after basic training she joined a new class and it was clear from the start she was unwelcome due to being the only female in the class. She was singled out and picked on and was subject to a sustained campaign of bullying and harassment by her male colleagues. The bullying was primarily comments of a sexual nature including obscene gestures and abusive language.
Unfortunately the harassment took its toll on our client and her chain of command did nothing to protect her. She started to feel unsafe being on base and her life became a nightmare for her. Her condition spiralled and she developed serious psychiatric conditions including crippling anxiety.
Our client raised a formal complaint in her treatment which was successful in identifying several breaches of duty by several individuals as well as disciplinary action against the main perpetrators. However, unfortunately this all came too late for our client and her military career ended by medical discharge.
Our client was in a fragile state when she sought advice from Bolt Burdon Kemp and understandably found the process of litigation stressful. A claim was issued against the Ministry of Defence for the bullying and sexual harassment she was subject to during her military career and we received an early admission of liability. Her claim eventually settled for £400,000 and our client was very happy with this outcome.
This compensation will provide the client with financial security for the future and will allow her to be able to piece her life together and move forwards.
If you have suffered bullying and/or harassment and would like to consider pursuing a civil claim, Bolt Burdon Kemp can help. Please contact our team here for advice about bringing a claim for compensation.