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 Times

Suzanne McKie QC was quoted in The Times regarding #MeToo, non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), and how lawyers address complaints of sexual harassment. Amongst other actions, the Solicitors' Regulation Authority (SRA) has opened a file into the behaviour of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (a top-tier law firm) towards one of Farore Law's clients.

Suzanne confirmed that it is not common for the SRA to be involved in such claims: "I would expect this to increase as people become more aware of what the SRA can do, and what amounts to professional misconduct. The SRA is also looking at strengthening the duties of solicitors to ensure that those duties are overridingly in favour of justice, so that those duties trump your duty to your client."

Click here to access the article.

Sexual harassment is widespread in British industry: Women and Equalities Committee Report

The Parliamentary Women and Equalities Committee made a number of significant recommendations in its Report on sexual harassment in the workplace, after concluding that sexual harassment is widespread in British industry. The recommendations include:

  • re-introducing protection against Third Party harassment;

  • extending to 6 months the limitation periods in Tribunals;

  • a statutory Code of Practice on Harassment; and

  • that NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) should clearly allow the person who has signed them to still report the matter to the police and regulatory bodies.

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.