Shop owners who stock magazines depicting semi-naked women on their covers could face potential legal action for discrimination or sexual harassment from staff who must handle the publications, reports the BBC.
Campaigners and lawyers believe that requiring shop assistants to sell so-called ‘lads’ mags’ could amount to a sexual harassment or even discrimination case if shop assistants were to make a formal legal complaint.
The campaigners have written an open letter to retailers which was published in the Monday edition of The Guardian newspaper, under the banner ‘Lose the Lads’ Mags’.
The letter described how retailers were exposing staff and customers to publications that amounted almost to pornography and that requiring them to handle the publications amounted to discrimination.
“High-street retailers are exposing staff and, in some cases, customers to publications whose handling and display may breach equality legislation,” read the letter.
The campaign group goes on to identify examples of cases in which employees have successfully sued their employers for selling pornographic material. They believe that lads’ mags, which display semi-naked women on their covers, could be next in line.
Sexual harassment applies to both men and women and occurs with sexual comments, unnecessary touching or physical contact, displaying offensive material or sending offensive emails.
The law protects people at work from sexual harassment from an employer, colleagues or even customers. Sexual harassment can comprise a one-off incident, or a series of incidents. The key point is that the incidents make the environment hostile, intimidating, humiliating or offensive.
The British Retail Consortium responded saying that its members do not sell anything illegal and are complying with industry rules.
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