Last year has seen the impressive march of the #MeToo campaign which has encouraged people to talk about sexual harassment. The extraordinary response to the #MeToo movement includes a fund set by British celebrities that have given more than £2m to women groups across the UK. Harry Potter star, Emma Watson who has donated £1m to the fund, said it was “just the beginning”.
Almost exactly a year after the first #MeToo tweet – the Justice and Equality Fund awarded £1,027,699 to seven women’s organizations in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
What should employers do?
Helping companies to navigate this emotionally charged climate has kept employment lawyers extremely busy. So what employers should do if they discover that a member of staff has shared a #MeToo post?
Last year actress Alyssa Milano took the initiative of tweeting to her massive 3.8 million followers asking those who have been sexually harassed to reply, “me too”. This resulted in a massive wave of women publicly and on social media coming forward and stating that they experienced sexual harassment and/or assault.
In some occasions, an employee may incur liability by their employer due to social media activities, but does that include #MeToo?
The short answer is probably no. It can be difficult for an employer to monitor, as these tweets are in general a #MeToo reply with nothing else on it. Unless the member of staff offers more information, or the employer is aware of additional circumstances or facts that would indicate the tweet was in reference to the employee’s current workplace, the employer is under no obligation to investigate.
Should an employer follow up with an employee with a #MeToo post or tweet?
This really depends on the circumstances surrounding the post, the worker and what the employer knows will determine the next action. In these circumstances is usually better to ask than to ignore it if there is a concern that there may be a problem. Asking the employee “I’ve seen your post and just wanted to make sure you are ok” would be enough and then document the conversation.
In addition to advising companies on what to do when faced with sexual harassment allegations, Aeris Employment Law can help to proactively change the workplace environments to mitigate risks early on.
What to do next?
Our team of employment law experts have a wealth of knowledge and experience in handling harassment cases and will be able to give you all the advice you need, whatever stage the complaint is at. If you would like more information or a no obligations chat about your options, contact our highly experienced employment law solicitor, Karin Henson today.