Legal News | Potential Legal Action Over ‘Lads’ Mags’

Shops selling “lads’ mags”, which show naked and semi-naked images of women, could be prosecuted if they continue to stock them, after campaigners and lawyers have argued that they could be in breach of the Equality Act 2010.

Requiring staff to handle the magazines and displaying them in what the campaigners argue is a workplace may amount to sex discrimination and sexual harassment contrary to the Equality Act 2010, the ‘Lose the Lads’ Mags’ campaign says.

In a letter published in the Guardian yesterday (May 27th), gender equality groups UK Feminista and Object joined forces with 11 lawyers to launch their national campaign, saying that “displaying lads’ mags and pornographic papers in ‘mainstream’ shops results in the involuntary exposure of staff, and in some cases, customers, to pornographic images.”

The letter goes on to say that there have been examples of staff successfully suing employers in respect of exposure to pornographic material at work, where exposure to such material has violated the dignity of individual employees or customers.

However, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said that its members do not sell anything illegal and have long followed industry guidelines, as well as taking their own voluntary action to ensure that front covers that may offend some people are displayed discreetly.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Association of Convenience Stores has urged customers to tell shopkeepers how they feel about this issue, arguing that retailers cannot be the arbiters of what should appear in a magazine. The spokesperson added that the letter’s mention of the possibility of legal action was “not particularly helpful”.

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Mackrell Turner Garrett Solicitors in London