Emma Watson launches hotline that provides women legal advice on workplace sexual harassment
A staggering one in two women have been sexually harassed at work, but four out of five of them aren't comfortable reporting the issues to H.R., which is why actress Emma Watson launched a new hotline that offers free legal advice regarding sexual harassment in England and Wales.
The hotline is designed to help women hold their employers and harassers accountable and is the first of its kind, something Watson finds "completely staggering," she told Fast Company. Anyone who needs legal advice for dealing with these types of situations can call the hotline and speak with someone from the nonprofit, Rights of Women, without paying the lofty fees traditional lawyers often charge.
"This advice line's purpose is to empower women to exercise their legal rights in the workplace. By advising women about their legal options and increasing their understanding of equalities and discrimination law, we will be able to help them make informed choices about next steps, including how to navigate the legal system with confidence," Rights of Women's senior legal officer, Deeba Syedtold Indie Wire.
Women can get advice on determining what counts as sexual harassment, filing a complaint against an employer, making a claim, and navigating settlement and nondisclosure agreements (NDAs), Fast Company reports.
The hotline is backed by the Time's Up United Kingdom Justice and Equality Fund and is managed by Rosa, a charitable fund set up to support initiatives that benefit women and girls in the U.K. It also received a $1.2 million donation from Watson and others in the film industry (which is no stranger to sexual harassment).
Syed also points out that sexual harassment in the workplace has reached "epidemic levels," but the good news is people are now aware of and talking about the problem, which means that we can finally fix it. "It finally feels like people are realizing the scale of the problem, and I'm certainly hopeful that with global standards such as the recent International Labor Organization treaty on harassment at work we'll start to see a new climate of prevention and accountability on this issue domestically," Watson said in a statement.
"Understanding what your rights are, how you can assert them and the choices you have if you've experienced harassment is such a vital part of creating safe workplaces for everyone, and this advice line is such a huge development in ensuring that all women are supported, wherever we work," Watson said. Women supporting other women is a beautiful thing.
If you're in need of legal advice regarding sexual harassment and you live in England or Wales, you can call 020 7490 0152.