London Seminar Programme - Employment half-day seminar: #metoo and the gender pay gap

Against a backdrop of the recent #MeToo movement and widespread gender pay gap controversy, issues that have traditionally been regarded as internal HR/ER issues have been propelled into the wider public domain – placing employment law and HR/ER professionals into the spotlight, often at board level.

In this session, our panel of experts will be looking at:

1) Responding to a crisis
Late last year, as allegations of sexual assault and harassment were hitting governments, Hollywood and corporates globally, Kate Varah, Executive Director of The Old Vic theatre, found herself, unexpectedly, caught up in middle of the #MeToo movement. Allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour by actor Kevin Spacey, who had served as the theatre’s artistic director from 2004-2015, emerged, and Kate took on the task of personally co-ordinating the theatre’s public and internal response. Kate will discuss how the events unfolded, lessons learnt and how the theatre is looking forward.

2) Workplace harassment protection in the US – the shape of things to come?
Legislators and regulators in the UK are just beginning to suggest that the laws on workplace harassment should be revised to address some of the issues raised by the recent spate of sexual harassment allegations. There are significant concerns about confidentiality, non-disclosure and failures to investigate alleged harassment or to protect employees from harassment. The legal landscape in the US is a few steps ahead of the UK and we have invited Anne Sekel of Foley & Lardner LLP to describe the changes introduced in relation to harassment law in the US. Anne will explain to us:
The changes in the US legal landscape

  • The cultural shift in the US and the impact that is having on employers’ approaches to harassment issues
  • The anatomy of a good internal investigation
  • The mistakes employers make in addressing harassment issues
We will then discuss whether the UK might see similar changes in legislation and consider the proposals from the Equality and Human Rights Commission, criticisms raised by NGOs such as the Fawcett Society and comments made by MPs as to how our laws might change.

3) The rise of equal pay litigation
Equal pay legislation has been with us for well over 40 years, so why have companies such as Next and Morrisons recently found themselves facing class action claims? Gender pay gap reporting has raised awareness and we think this issue is not unique to the retail sector – could your organisation be next? With organisations reported to be facing claims of up to £4bn, this is an area of focus for claimant lawyers. Paul Epstein QC, one of the country’s experts on equal pay issues and leading counsel in some of the biggest current cases will consider these questions, discuss his recent experiences and provide practical steps on what you should do if your organisation faces this risk.

Please join us for a networking breakfast beforehand and a buffet-style lunch to conclude the seminar, where you will get the chance to chat to the team.

This seminar will be held under Chatham House Rule.
Experts from our Employment team will be joined by:
  • Kate Varah, Executive Director, The Old Vic
  • Anne Sekel, Partner at Foley & Lardner LLP
  • Paul Epstein QC, Cloisters
This seminar will be of interest to:

General Counsel, heads of legal, HR directors, diversity and inclusion managers and in-house legal and HR professionals.