Sexual Harassment Reforms
Navigating the waters to report and file sexual harassment cases places the burden on the victim, who often do not have means to take on their employers. It’s time for that to change.
Reforms need to be made to sexual harassment law. We urge our members to write to your local, state and federal legislatures. (A note on contacting your representatives’ phone calls, followed by written letters are always best. One hand written letter = 150 phone calls)
- U.S. Senators – Get contact information for your Senators in the U.S. Senate.
- U.S. Representatives – Find the website and contact information for your Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives.
- State Governors – Learn how to get in touch with your state governor.
- State Legislators – Find the names and current activities of your state legislators.
- U.S. Mayors – Locate mayors by name, city, or population size.
- County Executives – Search on a map or by your ZIP code to find the head of the executive branch of government in your county. (The county executive may be an elected or an appointed position.)
- Other Local Government Officials – Get contact information for your city, county, and town officials in your state.
Write the U.S. Congress and state legislatures asking them to fully fund the EEOC and the state agencies charged with enforcing anti-discrimination law. These legislative bodies should pass laws to increase damages in employment discrimination cases. In successful cases, attorneys’ fees should be paid by the employer. These measures would incentivize lawyers to take these cases.
Write your representatives to prevent the retention of long-term sexual harassers with multiple victims. We need laws that prevent employers from including mandatory arbitration clauses in employment contracts. These clauses require workers to give up their right to be heard in court in order to accept a job. Similarly, employers should not be able to force employees to stay silent about anything that could harm the business reputation of a company. Companies should be required to report settlements to a clearinghouse accessible by people seeking jobs so they can avoid applying for jobs at organizations with repeat offenders. This transparency would motivate employers to treat sexual harassment like the serious type of discrimination that it is.
Navigating the waters to report and file sexual harassment cases places the burden on the victim. While the Equality Act 2010 in Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) provides discrimination law which protects individuals from unfair treatment, including sexual harassment, there is still more that can be done. Legislative change is needed to make it easier for victims of sexual harassment to take legal action against their abusers and to address the culture of harassment in workplaces. We urge our members to write to your Member of Parliament (MP).
A note on contacting your MP: writing or emailing is the best method as it provides a written record that can be referred to later. You can also telephone your MP’s office and many MPs are available through social media channels such as Twitter.
Contact the Prime Minister
The British Prime Minister – Theresa May. Contact the Prime Minster by filling out the online contact form, by writing to 10 Downing Street, London, SW1A 2AA or by calling 020 7219 5206
Contact Members of Parliament (MPs)
- Find the MP for your area (constituency) – http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/
- Write to them at: House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA
- Telephone them at the House of Commons or their local constituency office
- Email them using the contact details found in the Directory of MPs
- Attend their surgery – a regular session where they meet constituents to talk about issues of concern
- Contact the Minister for Women and Equalities – Justine Greening MP
Contact members of the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee
Write to your MP and members of the Women and Equalities Committee and ask them to:
Reintroduce Section 40 of the Equality Act 2010 which contain provisions to safeguard workers against third party harassment in their workplace – acts committed by customers, clients and other parties not employed by the company
- Reinstate employment tribunals’ power to make wider recommendations for the benefit of the wider workforce, in relation to discrimination claims. This would better address workplaces where there is a culture of bullying and harassment.
- Reinstate the statutory equality questionnaire. This allowed claimants to gather information to support a sexual harassment case before going to tribunal, to determine whether they had a case or not.
- Extend the full range of statutory employment rights to all workers, regardless of employment status or type of contract. Women in precarious employment positions, for example, those on zero-hours and casual contracts, are less likely to report harassment.
- Extend the time limit on filing discrimination cases with the Employment Tribunal. Current law states that discrimination cases must be filed within three months. Many victims of sexual harassment often feel unable to go through a tribunal process within such a short period of time after they experience abuse, or feel they have to wait for until they have left a company before they file a claim, for fear of reprisals.
- Make it mandatory for workplaces to have a sexual harassment policy
NOTE: The Equality Act 2010 does not apply to Northern Ireland. The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland has a summary of the gaps in equality law between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. For details of laws that apply to discrimination in Northern Ireland, go to http://www.equalityni.org/Footer-Links/Legislation
“While in many ways Lebanon is a leader in the region when it comes to women’s rights, currently there is no legislation specifically outlawing sexual harassment on the books whatsoever, even in the workplace or public spaces. A new bill criminalising sexual harassment presented by the minister for women’s affairs was approved when put before the cabinet earlier this year, but parliament is yet to act on it – “.
Bethan McKernan Beirut. “Lebanese Women Fight Back against Sexual Harassment with New Campaign.” The Independent, Independent Digital News and Media, 16 Aug. 2017, www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/lebanon-women-sexual-harassment-fight-campaign-sexism-gender-men-mesh-basita-its-not-ok-american-a7896706.html.
The best way to enact change in Lebanon is to contact these NGOs that are working on protecting and helping victims of sexual harassment. There are currently two NGOs that can be contacted
Abaad: ABAAD comprises of a dynamic pool of resources, human rights activists, lawyers, experts in their fields, social workers, and researchers that are all dedicated towards achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment.
KAFA Mapping Violence against Women in Lebanon.
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