28 May 2013

Lawyers take on lads' mags

A group of UK lawyers have told supermarkets they may be vulnerable to legal action from employees and customers if they continue to stock raunchy magazines and newspapers.

By James Barnes

Lads' mags: campaign underway

In a letter published in the Guardian, 14 equalities lawyers – including several from Matrix Chambers where Cherie Booth QC is a member – say supermarkets which refuse to take down the publications could be challenged under sexual discrimination laws.

Equality Act

In the letter, the lawyers say that displaying the offending magazines and newspapers ‘in workplaces, and/or requiring staff to handle them in the course of their jobs may amount to sex discrimination and sexual harassment contrary to the Equality Act 2010’.
According to the Guardian, women have previously found success when making discrimination claims based of the display of explicit material in the workplace, but this is the first publicised instance of a legal case being threatened against a major retailer.
The lawyers are set to bring a test case if a campaign, launched by UK Feminista and the anti-objectification organisation Object, is unheeded by shops including Tesco, Sainsbury's, Morrisons, Asda and WHSmith.


‘For too long supermarkets have got off the hook, stocking lads' mags in the face of widespread opposition, but this time we have the law on our side,’ said Kat Banyard, founder of UK Feminista. ‘Every shop that sells lads' mags – publications which are deeply harmful to women – are opening themselves up to legal action.’
However, the British Retail Consortium – which represents 80 per cent of retail trade in the UK by turnover – said the retailers ‘don’t need reminding of their responsibilities’, adding that they follow industry guidelines and ‘don’t sell anything that isn’t legal to sell’.

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