Sexual harassment in the workplace – Where to go for help
Recent revelations in the media have highlighted that the legal profession is not immune to sexual harassment in the workplace. If you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation where you are feeling sexually harassed, below are some links that may be of assistance. It is not okay to be sexually harassed in any circumstances.
Lawyers’ complaints procedures
All lawyers and law firms must have procedures for handling complaints. They are required to deal with any complaint promptly and fairly. If taking your complaint to the lawyer proves unsatisfactory, or is not appropriate, the New Zealand Law Society Complaints Service may be able to help you resolve the situation or to make a formal complaint.
National Friends Panel
The National Friends Panel is a New Zealand Law Society service. The Panel is made up of New Zealand lawyers who are willing to be contacted on a confidential basis by fellow lawyers with questions or concerns relating to practice issues. They do not provide free legal advice, they are there to provide support to members of the legal profession.
The contact list can be accessed here.
The Auckland District Law Society also operates a Friends Panel.
New Zealand Law Society Lawyers Complaints Service
The New Zealand Law Society operates a complaints service which provides assistance to any person wishing to make a complaint against a lawyer. They can be contacted via 0800 261 801, through an Online Concerns Form, or email email@example.com
Employment Relations Authority and Human Rights Commission
Sexual harassment is covered by both the Employment Relations Act 2000 and the Human Rights Act 1993. If you cannot resolve a problem with your employer, you have the choice to take it further. You can raise a personal grievance under the Employment Relations Act 2000 within 90 days. You can also complain to the Human Rights Commission under the Human Rights Act 1993 within 12 months of the incident.
Support in the Legal Profession
Auckland Young Lawyers
The Auckland District Law Society is committed to supporting young lawyers throughout the early stages of their career by offering professional development and collegial opportunities on a range of programmes and initiatives.
Auckland Women Lawyers’ Association
Representative organisation involved in the legal profession which works to address legal issues affecting members and New Zealand women and children.
Wellington Women Lawyers’ Association
Will support anyone: lawyer, intern, support staff, who wants help to deal with, report or otherwise address what has happened to them.
Steph Dyhrberg of Dyhrberg Drayton Law is the Convener of the Wellington Women Lawyers’ Association.
Young Lawyers’ Committee Wellington
The Wellington Young Lawyers’ Committee is a committee of the New Zealand Law Society.
They will support all lawyers and legal support staff of any gender in raising these issues and supporting affected lawyers through the appropriate channels. They also run a Bridging the Gap mentoring programme sponsored by IPLS with the Victoria University of Wellington Law Students’ Society.
Otago Women Lawyers’ Society (OWLS)
OWLS aims to work for the equal opportunity and advancement of women in the study and practice of law.
AUT has a trained AUT harassment prevention contact. They can provide confidential support and information.
AUT also provides free counselling and mental health support to AUT students.
University of Auckland provides Student Health and Counselling Services.
Provides a confidential 24/7 Student Crisis Hotline on 0800 841 140
They will respond to immediate needs and work with you on a confidential basis to:
- Listen and provide non-judgemental support
- Provide referrals to the Student Counselling Service, the Student Health Service and other specialised external support services as required
- Coordinate other practical support (academic special considerations, emergency housing, financial aid etc)
- Talk through options and processes for reporting an incident if you choose to do so.
University of Waikato also operates counselling services and student health services.
Support and advice from the University can be obtained from:
- Jackie Anderson, Student Interest Adviser
- Your Hall of Residence’s Student Support Co-ordinator
- Disability Services
- Erica Schoulten, VUWSA Student Advocate
Victoria University of Wellington Student Health Services provides health care and counselling support for students, with clinics based at the Kelburn and Pipitea campus.
University of Canterbury provides support and advice through the UC Health Centre, Student Care and support in the community.
Student Health services provides a comprehensive range of primary health care services to the student population, including doctor, nurse, mental health and well-being and psychiatry appointments.
Content Warning: Sexual violence
Find Support aims to support anyone who has experienced sexual violence, whether it happened recently or a long time ago. You do not need to have reported the event to the Police to get help and support. They also provide support to family and whānau.
If you have experienced sexual violence and need to talk, you can also contact the ACC Sensitive Claims Unit – they’re specialised and experienced in helping people who have experienced sexual violence. They can explain how the service works, help you find the right counsellor and answer any questions you have.
Information on sexual assault and consent
Visit the New Zealand Police page for more information.