Myth: The sending of unwanted Valentine Day cards could trigger off an avalanche of claims for damages for sexual harrassment, being contrary to EU employment provisions. Furthermore if the sender is not identified then it is possible that the employer could be liable if Valentine cards are not been banned under workplace rules.
(McKenna and Co., Solicitors, Daily Telegraph, 14.2.95 Daily Mirror, 15.2.95 The Guardian, 17.2.95)
Response: This appears to be a wholly speculative proposition put out for publicity on St.Valentine’s Day. There is, nonetheless, a Commission Recommendation dated 27 November 1991 concerning the protection of the dignity of women and men at work (92/131/EEC). Article 1 is as follows:
“It is recommended that the Member States take action to promote awareness that conduct of a sexual nature, or other conduct based on sex affecting the dignity of women and men at work, including conduct of superiors and colleagues, is unacceptable if:
(a) such conduct is unwanted, unreasonable and offensive to the recipient;
(b) a person’s rejection of, or submission to, such conduct on the part of employers or workers (including superiors or colleagues) is used explicitly or implicitly as a basis for a decision which affects that person’s access to vocational training, access to employment, promotion, salary or any other employment decisions;
(c) such conduct creates an intimidating, hostile or humiliating work environment for the recipient;
and that such conduct may, in certain circumstances, be contrary to the principle of equal treatment within the meaning of Articles 3,4 and 5 of Directive 76/207/EEC”.