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Sexual harassment at law firms rife, inquiry hears

Publish date: 12 July 2018
Issue Number: 4500
Diary: Legalbrief Today
Category: Workplace

Law firms should be required to have sexual harassment and alcohol consumption policies, MPs have been told by a former Magic Circle employee, who says she was sexually assaulted by a partner at her firm. The suggestion is part of an anonymous written submission to the House of Commons Women and Equalities Select Committee as part of its sexual harassment in the workplace inquiry, says the Law Gazette. The witness says she was sexually assaulted by a partner while she was a junior lawyer. 'Throughout my own experience of reporting an incident of sexual misconduct, it was clear that the firm was not prepared for, and lacking in the relevant expertise, to deal with a complaint of such a serious nature.' The submission states that the incident was reported to the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The witness says policies on sexual harassment and acceptable alcohol consumption at work and work-related events should be mandatory. 'There is a particular need for thorough and detailed policies in large City firms, where there is a culture of excessive consumption of alcohol, and where incidents of sexual misconduct are rife,' the witness adds. The witness says she felt compelled to agree to a confidentiality undertaking so they could access details on the outcome of their complaint. She says complainants should never be compelled to sign an undertaking or non-disclosure agreement in sexual misconduct cases. Meanwhile, in a separate submission, the Crown Prosecution Service is accused of conducting a 'dishonest and manipulative' complaints process by a former employee. She says she was assaulted by a colleague, who was subsequently charged with indecent assault and found guilty following a Crown Court trial. However, she says that, for the next 20 years, she was subjected to sexual harassment, sexual discrimination and victim-blaming at work.

Full Law Gazette report