leading employment lawyer Janet Gaymer has called on law firms to use arbitration to settle in-house sexual harassment and discrimination claims.
Gaymer, head of employment at Simmons & Simmons, says law firms should deal with disputes as soon as possible instead of letting situations get out of hand.
Her comments implicitly criticise the way Cameron McKenna and Edward Lewis have handled recent allegations of misconduct made by female employees. She says: “Problems are not being dealt with at an early stage, even though sometimes the problem is simply a misunderstanding of what is acceptable.”
She says firms should use alternative dispute resolution to settle claims. “At the moment there are women sitting around saying I dare not speak out because I don't want to damage my career in law.
“This sort of thing happens in all walks of life so I don't think we should be down in the mouth about all the publicity at the moment,” she says. “It's not just us, but we should be the ones doing something about it.”
Edward Lewis chairman Tony Collins resigned from the management committee last month following allegations of sexual discrimination while Cameron McKenna is investigating two unfair dismissal claims against the firm. It has also settled two claims for sex discrimination out of court.