SHOP (Sexual Harassment – Operation Predator)

To support the “No Predator” initiative by film producers, Boudica, the anti-discrimination law firm, Equal Justice solicitors, are to introduce a confidential telephone help line for victims of sexual harassment at work.

SHOP Emergency Telephone Helpline – 0207-603 3881

Background

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Sexual Harassment and Gender Discrimination is endemic in the film/media/advertising industry. It is also prevalent in the City, Government, public authorities, and at most employers.

We have run over 3,500 discrimination cases to date, and in our experience, the misconduct includes rape, sexual assault, inappropriate touching and comment.

Almost all sexual harassment at work occurs in private. The predator (realising what he is doing is wrong or possibly enjoying the fear factor) harasses the female victim with no-one else present. The lack of witnesses creates an evidential problem; it is one predator’s word against that of the victim and the predator is almost always more senior and better established in the workplace. However, it is often a pattern of behaviour, and where former victims stand up, that gives credence to the female victim’s complaints.

Most sexual harassment occurs where the predator is in a position of power over the victim and the worst cases tend to occur where the relative power difference is at the greatest. This places women in insecure situations, such as when they are applying for work, on work experience, or in their probationary period or where they are working for someone who has absolute power and/or no accountability, at the greatest risk of harassment.

Most sexual harassment at work is not related to sexual attraction. It is motivated by the misogynistic desire to exercise power over a woman, to humiliate her and put her in her place (and/or to make that man feel he has some power himself through subjugating her), and the sexual content is merely a symptom rather than a cause.

More than 50% of women suffer sexual harassment at work. However, at least 95% of such harassment still goes unreported at the relevant time. The main reason for that is the fear of retaliation. Women are routinely victimised for complaining about sexual harassment and the perpetrator is seldom disciplined or dismissed. Indeed, the most common outcome is that the women leaves that employment and the male predator remains secure in his employment (or, perversely, is promoted).

The impact on the female victim who does not complain, or complains without success, tends to be a feeling of isolation, a loss of self-worth, disempowerment, stress, anxiety and depression.
The #metoo campaign has allowed women to speak out about their former sexual harassment, almost all of which was (understandably) not reported at the time. It has unburdened and empowered the victims and left them feeling less isolated. However, although laudable and a positive influence, it provides no solutions to the problem.

The Law
Some sexual harassment will constitute a criminal offence. Those incidents may be reported to the police.

The Equality Act 2010 covers sexual harassment and gender discrimination at work. It also covers the situation when you have been dismissed and, importantly, when you are applying for work.
It covers employees, workers and the self-employed.

Hence, it would cover the situation of an actor performing a role in a film, play or TV advert. It should also cover the situation where the actor is being auditioned or interviewed for a role.

It may also cover the situation in which a Harvey Weinstein type figure approaches an actor and asks to speak to her about a potential role (a pre-audition) and where it becomes clear that to obtain that paid work a sexual cost is expected or demanded (or suffered) for that actor to achieve that paid acting role. A pre-audition may occur at a party, the promoter’s home, the director’s office or in the agent’s car.

Most agents are unaware that actors have these rights to sue and most advise actors not to speak up because of the damage that they may do to their career (and that of the agent).
It also protects women from un-equal pay in those roles. Women are still paid 18% less than men, and black women are paid 42% less than men, for the same value of work.

SHOP Emergency Telephone Helpline – 0207-603 3881

Female (and male) victims of sexual harassment at work or in interviews or auditions (or in pre-auditions) are encouraged to ring this confidential help-line and report the incident of sexual harassment.

They will then receive FREE legal advice on their situation and their legal options. The helpline opens at 10am on Monday 27 November 2017, the first working day after Saturday 25 November 2017, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

It is understood that BBC’s Women’s Hour noted this week that free (and accurate) legal advice was the key response needed to help combat sexual harassment against female workers.

Insurance
All female workers are advised to join trade unions and/or to take out home contents insurance which has legal expense cover for employment related issues. This type of insurance cover can be taken out whether or not you own, or rent, your home. Please note though that the worker needs to ensure that the insurance covers their particular status and type of work – some policies only cover employees rather than workers or the self-employed.

Statistically more than 50% of female workers will be sexually harassed at work so it is more likely than not that you will need that insurance. The insurance cover you for the legal cost of the necessary legal representation required to successfully sue for compensation for such incidents. 95% of claimants who sue at the Employment Tribunal without legal representation lose their discrimination claims.

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