Sexual harassment in the workplace remains a problem, prominent lawyer says

Joanne stronach

Employers need to educate their staff on what constitutes sexual harassment and gender discrimination in the workplace, as the government announces it will pass new legislation to protect employees from victims of such behavior at work.

Joanne Stronach, a prominent employment law lawyer, responsible for employment law and human resources at Cartmell Shepherd Solicitors, said sexual harassment and gender discrimination was still a problem in the workplace despite progress in the workplace. equality over the decades.

According to recent figures from the British Medical Association, more than 90 percent of female doctors said they had experienced sexism on the job, while 62 percent of women and 19 percent of men out of the 4,215 government polled this years reported having experienced similar incidents across other industries.

With the success of campaigns such as the #MeToo movement which has encouraged people to publicly share their stories of sexual abuse and harassment, more and more people are feeling confident to report such behavior and the government is seeking to implement new legislation to further reduce sexual harassment in the workplace.

And Joanne is raising awareness of the role employers play in preventing such incidents – and the potential actions they might face if such behavior were adopted by one of their employees.

She said: “Employers are already ‘vicariously liable’ for such behavior of their staff in the course of their employment and can be so even if it occurs outside the workplace, because some situations can be considered as an extension of employment. Employers need to be aware of this.

“If someone is making comments or approaching a coworker at a party or conference away from the workplace, a complaint can still be lodged with the employer and needs to be addressed.

“It is very important that employers educate all their workers about acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Having an equality policy in place certainly helps, but it is not enough on its own.

“Companies need to train their staff, explain the policy and provide examples of behavior that would not be acceptable. All complaints raised must also be treated seriously, without delay and not be swept under the carpet.

“In order to be able to successfully defend any claim, an employer must have taken all reasonable steps to prevent harassment. “

Gender discrimination is reported across a wide range of industry sectors, and Joanne herself has experienced it.

When visiting a client many years ago, she was accompanied by a male trainee lawyer so that he could gain vital experience. The client said he was happy to see the man brought his secretary to take notes, automatically assuming the man was the lawyer.

Figures released by the Law Society earlier this year revealed a disparity in gender equality at the executive level in UK law firms. While women have accounted for over 60 percent of those entering the legal profession since 1990, women represent only 30 percent of partners in private practice.

Cartmell Shepherd goes against this trend, with female directors seven to four times more numerous than male directors.

Joanne said: “Cartmell Shepherd Solicitors is a very forward-thinking company in terms of flexibility, hybrid work and attitude towards men and women.

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