The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has written letters threatening legal action against the chairs of FTSE 100 companies and other leading employers if it can be evidenced that they have failed to prevent or deal with sexual harassment within their companies.
The ‘Weinstein ripple effect’ has seen sexual harassment allegations being made across industries, from Hollywood to Hollyrood and everywhere in between. The social media campaign ‘#MeToo’ has shown how widespread this issue is and the statistics support this. BBC Radio 5 Live produced a report in October stating that 37% of people asked had experienced sexual harassment in the workplace or in their place of study. Broken down further this figure came to 20% of men and a staggering 53% of women.
The EHRC believes that accountability for change lies with leadership and have written to these heads of business to make them take responsibility for behaviour that may well be occurring within their companies. The letter requests recipients send the EHRC evidence of:
- What safeguards the firms have in place to prevent sexual harassment
- What steps they have taken to ensure that employees company-wide can report incidences without retribution
- How they plan to prevent harassment moving forward
The letter was accompanied by legal guidance to advise them of the law on sexual harassment. They also plan to gather evidence online by asking individuals who have experienced sexual harassment to submit ideas on how best to deal with incidents in the workplace. The EHRC have set the deadline for responses as 19th January 2018.
If you are unsure about what your business should be doing to prevent sexual harassment or have concerns about how to handle a complaint that has arisen, get in touch with your dedicated Employment Solicitor today.