Sexual Harassment


Preventing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

In the face and growth of global movements such as ‘#MeToo’; ‘The Silence Breakers’; ‘#NotInMyName’, and #BalanceTonPorc or “out your pig”, there is an even greater need for more sensitization to the scourge of sexual harassment in the workplace.” Rustenburg Platinum Mines Limited v UASA obo Steve Pietersen (read more)

The Courts have been taking a tough stance on sexual harassment. We have seen several cases where employers have amongst other things been ordered to pay significant amounts as damages for failing to properly deal with complaints of sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that violates the rights of an employee and constitutes a barrier to equity in the workplace, taking into account all of the following factors:

  • Whether the harassment is on the prohibited grounds of sex and/or gender and/or sexual orientation
  • Whether the sexual conduct was unwelcome
  • The nature and extent of the sexual conduct
  • The impact of the sexual conduct of the employee

The judge in Rustenburg Platinum Mines v UASA was very concerned with the Commissioner’s failure to identify incidents of sexual harassment:

“[60] In this case, there was evidence of incidents of persistent unwelcome conduct on the part of  Pietersen, five of which should have been apparent to the Commissioner and dispositive of  the matter.

These were:

  1.  The incident at the safety braai event;
  2.  The persistent requests to meet and engage in sexual activity, and the complainant’s consistent lack of reciprocation;
  3.  The suggestion by Pietersen that he and the complainant should attend a training course in Randfontein so that that they can sleep together;
  4.  The promise of a promotion if the complainant agreed to sleep with Pietersen (quid pro quo harassment)
  5.  Pietersen gave the complainant a test memorandum to assist her with applying for a vacancy, with the expectation that she would agree to sleep with him.”

Employees need to know their rights when faced with sexual harassment. Allegations of sexual harassment should be dealt with seriously, expeditiously, sensitively and confidentially.

We use various illustrative visual aids such as the video above to help learners grasp the subject matter. In our eLearning module, we help learners to: understand what sexual harassment is, identify different types of sexual harassment and know what to do if faced with sexual harassment. This reduces the risks of sexual harassment claims or at least ensures that they are reported and properly dealt with.

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