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Changing the rules

Changing the rules

In the wake of the #MeToo movement the legal profession is getting serious about dealing with workplace sexual harassment. Stopping sexual harassment in the legal profession has started. Prompted by the #MeToo, #TimesUp and #NOWAustralia movements and women’s marches, which have seen perpetrators toppled following complaints by emboldened victims, firms, professional associations and regulatory bodies have redoubled, or instigated, efforts to effect change. At this global watershed moment, there is, as Australia’s Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins put it, “an unprecedented appetite for change”. The groundswell in the legal profession reflects initiatives more broadly. A world-first inquiry by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) led by Ms Jenkins will consider causes of sexual harassment in the workplace, the use of technology and social media and the adequacy of existing laws around workplace sexual harassment, including a review of complaints to anti-discrimination agencies. Examples of  best practice will be identified and recommendations made. Criminalising sexual harassment has not been ruled out.

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