The Amended Code of Good Practice on the Handling of Sexual Harassment Cases defines sexual harassment as any unwanted conduct of a sexual nature that violates the rights of an employee and which constitutes a barrier to equity in the workplace.
Sexual harassment can take the form of physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct. Non-verbal conduct includes unwelcome gestures, indecent exposure as well as the display or sending, by electronic or other means, of sexually explicit pictures or objects. Sexual harassment may also take the form of victimisation, quid pro quo harassment and sexual favouritism.
Sexual harassment is a form of unfair discrimination and Section 60 of the Employment Equity Act provides that an employer should take swift action once a complaint is lodged. Should an employer fail to act swiftly, they are also deemed to have contravened the Employment Equity Act and can be held vicariously liable.
In Rustenburg Platinum Mines Ltd v UASA obo Pietersen and Others (JR 641/2016) the Labour court held that time does not bar a sexual harassment dispute. If an employee was too scared to report this to an employer because of possible victimization, nothing stops them from reporting this at a later stage, be it weeks, months or years after the incident took place.
If you are a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace report this to your direct manager or team leader immediately, if you have done so already and your employer has done nothing about this, contact MISA in order to help you take swift action herein.
Violence and harassment in the world of work remains a widespread phenomenon, MISA has been actively involved in the negotiation process of ILO Convention No. 190 – Violence and Harassment Convention and Recommendation No. 206. MISA seeks to provide its members with a workplace free from violence and harassment in the workplace, including gender – based violence and harassment.
In a nutshell: If you have been sexually harassed in the workplace and are too scared to report same because of possible victimization, irrespective of when the incident occurred, you have a right not to be unfairly discriminated against, take action!
Remember MISA is just a phone call away!