New workplace harassment helpline launched by Emma Watson

Rights of Women have launched a new helpline for women who have experienced sexual harassment at work. Legal advice will be provided on a number of issues, including identifying sexual harassment, how to bring a claim against your employer, Employment Tribunal procedures, and non-disclosure agreements (“NDAs”).

The helpline was inspired by the #MeToo movement, and is funded by TIME’S UP UK’s Justice and Equality Fund. Emma Watson, who launched the helpline, said it was “completely staggering” that the free helpline for women in England and Wales was the only service of its type. “Understanding what your rights are, how you can assert them and the choices you have if you’ve experienced harassment is such a vital part of creating safe workplaces for everyone, and this advice line is such a huge development in ensuring that all women are supported, wherever we work.“ [1]

Suzanne McKie QC, Founder of Farore Law and member of Rights of Women’s Advisory Panel, will be taking calls on the helpline next week.

The helpline number is 020 7490 0152, and will be open on Mondays (6pm - 8pm) and Tuesdays (5pm - 7pm), excluding bank holidays. More opening times are expected in due course.

[1] The Guardian

Government Equalities Office launches consultation on sexual harassment at work

The Government Equalities Office has recently launched a new consultation on sexual harassment in the workplace. The consultation will explore whether the current law provides sufficient protection, consider if there are any gaps, and what more can be done at a practical level to ensure people are properly protected at work.

This consultation is split into two parts: (1) a set of online questions designed for anyone to respond to, and (2) a more technical document that invites views on the law. Both individuals and organisations are encouraged to submit their views. Responses from the following are of particular interest:

  • anyone with experience of sexual harassment or other types of discrimination at work;

  • anyone who is or has been a volunteer/intern and who has experience of sexual harassment or any other type of discrimination;

  • anyone who has managed or supported someone who has experienced sexual harassment or other types of discrimination at work; and/or

  • anyone who has thought about taking a case of any type of discrimination or harassment to an employment tribunal.

To submit your views, or learn more about the consultation, click here.

Suzanne McKie QC quoted in the Financial Times

Suzanne McKie QC was quoted by the Financial Times yesterday regarding delays over bullying complaints at KPMG, one of the ‘Big Four’ auditors.

Suzanne commented:

The outcomes aren’t tough enough. I am seeing a lot of final written warnings and not a lot of dismissals, and sometimes that is because [the alleged perpetrators] are big earners. My sense is that companies are not going far enough and need to be tougher with the penalties they are meting out. There is a lack of understanding of the drip drip drip effect of bullying and harassment. I see very strong people coming to me and saying I cannot cope — I can’t go through the front door. And they’ve been there for 30 years.”

The relevant FT article is available here.

Harassment and bullying in the House of Commons

Dame Laura Cox QC published her Report into the Bullying and Harassment of House of Commons staff on October 15 2018. Suzanne McKie QC assisted the inquiry by making legal submissions related to the law of harassment, discrimination, and vicarious liability through the Centre for Women’s Justice.

A copy of the Report is available here.

Farore Law's introductory guide to harassment

Claims of harassment in the workplace are common, but harassment claims can also be brought in any situation covered by the Equality Act 2010. This includes (and is not limited to) conduct within partnerships, public offices, trade organisations, local authorities, and bodies responsible for awarding qualifications. The firm has produced a detailed guide to harassment claims and offences under the following Acts:

  • the Equality Act 2010;

  • the Protection from Harassment Act 1997;

  • the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001; and

  • the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005.

Click here to view the guide.