#MeToo has been crucial in encouraging women to speak out. #MeToo spread virally as a hashtag to highlight how widespread sexual harassment in the workplace is and encouraged women to speak out.
Consequently, high profile cases of sexual harassment have continued to be reported in the news since 2017.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) published the results of their online survey on Sexual Harassment in March 2018, made up of 750 responses. Three quarters of the 750 had experienced Sexual Harassment at work, and the majority of these were women.
Three quarters of the accused were colleagues / directors of the company. In around half of the cases where individuals had reported the incident, employers took no action. One quarter of those surveyed who had been sexually harassed had not reported their experience. Most employers reported that they had a policy which dealt with sexual harassment. However, only one third of employers offered training to staff other than line managers.
For full details of the legal definition of sexual harassment, please visit our page on Sexual Harassment in the Workplace.
Workers can be sexually harassed by people of the same sex or the opposite sex.
Sexual harassment can be perpetrated by…
Professions Regulated by Law or Public Authority are professions where there is a regulatory requirement to register with a competent authority prior to practising that profession. For example: lawyers and accountants.
Regulated Industries include:
Telecommunications, health care and life sciences, rail, airline and pipeline transportation, oil and gas, electric power and transmission, financial services and trading, water, mail.
Regulatory Interest in Sexual Misconduct
“We will always take action where that is the case. Given the changes in societal expectations we will see more of that in the coming years.”
– Paul Philip, Chief Executive of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), 31 October 2019
#MeToo exposed the fact that repeat sexual harassment offenders had been using their power and wealth to silence their victims and prevent them from reporting crimes. Examples of this have been high-profile individuals such as Harvey Weinstein and Sir Philip Green who used Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) to prevent their victims from speaking out or reporting them to the authorities in return for a cash settlement.
As a result of this, the Solicitors Regulatory Authority and the Law Society issued guidance for all legal practitioners on the use of NDAs and confidentiality clauses, usually found in Settlement Agreements.
The SRA guidance recommends that:
If you have concerns about sexual harassment in your workplace, or have been offered a Settlement Agreement which contains NDAs which you are uncomfortable with, please contact our Employment Law team on 01273 609911, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.