Sexual harassment in the workplace

The recent allegations against US film producer Harvey Weinstein have brought the issue of sexual harassment at work into the global spotlight with an overwhelming number of women across the globe sharing their experiences of inappropriate treatment at the hands of their employers. This has prompted discussion of the obstacles faced by women trying to develop their careers. It is becoming clear that in many sectors there is a culture in the workplace of ignoring or trivialising sexual harassment.
A recent BBC survey, commissioned in the wake of the Weinstein allegations, has found that half of the women interviewed had experienced sexual harassment at work or place of study. The harassment ranged from inappropriate comments to sexual assault with 30% of the women being targeted by a boss or senior manager.
What has emerged over the recent weeks is that simply having a sexual harassment policy in place is not enough to address such a prolific problem in the workplace. Policies will only be effective if they are “lived” and there is a culture that does not ignore the behaviour the policy is designed to prevent. Perhaps now is the time for a shift in emphasis from attempting to avoid a harassment claim, to preventing the harassment occurring in the first instance.

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Laura Anthony

About Laura Anthony

Laura supports the team on a broad range of both contentious and non-contentious legal matters, acting for both employers and employees. Her experience includes: advising corporate bodies and senior-level individuals on a wide range of employment law issues; drafting and negotiating terms of employment contracts and consultancy agreements; advising on and negotiating settlement agreements for employers and exiting employees; reviewing and drafting employment policies and handbooks; advising employers on exiting strategies and the associated unfair and wrongful dismissal risks; and providing support on large corporate transactions.

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