“…sexual harassment is a heinous and horrendous conduct since it undermines the dignity of women and the values enshrined in our Constitution.” (Extract from judgment below)Employers have a strong duty to provide a safe workplace for their employees, and to protect them from harm – including sexual harassment. An employer who fails in this faces claims for damages and compensation, but as a recent Labour Court judgment shows, the victim must first follow procedure correctly, and without delay.
Delayed reporting kills a claimA female employee claimed “a just and equitable compensation” from her employer after she was sexually harassed by two male superiors. Her claim failed, the Court finding that her delay in reporting the incidents to her employer (two years in one case and three in the other) were……
The correct procedure, and the required timingThe employee’s claim was based on an allegation that her employer had contravened section 60 of the Employment Equity Act (EEA), which deems an employer guilty of a contravention and liable for the offending employee’s conduct unless it takes “the necessary steps to eliminate the alleged conduct and comply with the provisions of this Act” and “is able to prove that it did all that was reasonably practicable to ensure that the employee would not act in contravention of this Act.” The Court set out the required steps by the victim as –
- Allege a contravention at the workplace
- Report the contravention immediately
- Prove the alleged contravention
- Allege and prove failure to take the necessary steps.
Claiming from the offenders themselvesOn a related note the Court mentioned that the victim would have a claim direct against the two employees who harassed her. Once again however, time is of the essence for victims – quite apart from the risk of the claim prescribing, the earlier formal reports are made the greater the credibility likely to be given to them. Disclaimer: The information provided herein should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your professional adviser for specific and detailed advice.