Harvey Weinstein, an extreme example of sexual harassment – but there are lessons for HR and Company Boards

Here Watson Martin legal experts Melinda Allison and Amanda Harris set out the key implications for HR departments following the conviction of Hollywood producer, Harvey Weinstein

Simply updating your company policies against harassment of any kind is not enough. You need to have the full support from your business leaders. Board directors have to take more responsibility through supporting and instilling a zero-tolerance culture from the top-down.  Easier said than done but what this most definitely means is not keeping harassment claims under the radar using confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements.

In the UK, new guidance setting out steps for preventing sexual harassment at work has been issued by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to transform workplace culture.  The watchdog said there was an ‘overwhelming’ need for tougher action on harassment at work and a lack of awareness at senior levels as to the extent of the problem.

The #MeToo movement has increased employers’ focus on the problem of sexual harassment, prompting a cultural shift where those in positions of power are held to a much higher standard of behaviour. HR has a critical role to play in safeguarding employees and their organisation’s reputation, by ensuring a zero-tolerance approach to harassment.

Ultimately, employers are liable for the acts of their employees towards one another unless they can show they have taken all reasonable steps to prevent an offence.  Taking action after the event is rarely enough to defend a claim and avoid liability.

The seven-step advice from the EHRC asks businesses to:

  • Develop effective anti-harassment policy
  • Engage their staff
  • Assess and mitigate risks in the workplace
  • Think about reporting systems
  • Deliver training
  • Know what to do when a complaint is made
  • Know what to do if dealing with sexual harassment and third parties.


Training delivered by Watson Martin experts Melinda or Amanda will help you:

  • Be fully briefed about the implications and what action to take
  • Understand how to challenge inappropriate behaviour
  • Develop a workplace culture where harassment is known to be unacceptable and in which employees are able to speak up with confidence.


For HR practitioners or line managers: a two hour webinar on avoiding, identifying and dealing with sexual harassment claims.

For HR professionals: a one day Employment Law workshop which includes the topic of sexual harassment and other employment law updates that every HR department should be aware of in 2020.

Also available: One-day workshop plus CIPD Award qualification at Level 5 Intermediate or Level 7 Advanced

For further information on Watson Martin employment law training please call our specialist advisers on: 020 7932 2760.

Attending the workshops has given me a much clearer insight into structuring my assignments. The tutor (Amanda Harris) is a subject matter expert and incredibly lovely, so I always feel confident asking for clarification if I don’t understand. I’d recommend attending if you can, goodbye assignment paralysis!” Christopher Grey, CIPD Advanced candidate

“Melinda was EXCELLENT. Brilliant coach, tutor and sounding board. I thoroughly enjoyed working with her. The course questions were well structured, and I enjoyed the freedom to write about my own experience and tie it back to employment law,” Matthew Ward, CIPD Advanced candidate

Coming soon

Latest Employment Law updates from Watson Martin’s legal expert Melinda Allison – five key changes every HR professional should be aware of in 2020.  Check our website for details.