Just trying your luck can be sexual harassment: Rights at Work

JOHANNESBURG 02 March 2018 - Sexual harassment cases involving celebrities and the #MeToo campaign are now global topics. Gail Blacher, from Rights-at-Work, discusses sexual harassment in the workplace.

JOHANNESBURG - Sexual harassment campaigns involving celebrities and the #Metoo campaign fighting back against such harrassment have been making global headlines.

They are expected to be further addressed at the upcoming Oscars ceremony.

Addressing these issues, Gail Blacher from Rights at Work said that sexual harassment policies and procedures in the workplace had been around for many years in America and were very strictly applied.

READ: Sixty percent of US women 'sexually harassed': poll

These policies were also entrenched in our Constitution, but many young women - and men - did not realise that these rights applied to them and often felt they need to oblige those in authority in order to further their careers.

This was largely due to a long history of entitlement in the workplace.

According to Blacher, harassment lines are fairly blurry, but the key questions to ask are:- is the conduct unwelcome and does it impair my dignity.

She said that all employees are entitled to a comfortable work environment, and in terms of South African law, companies that did not take action against sexual harassment offenders become vicariously liable for those actions.

She pointed out that even if someone resigns as a result of being identified as a harrasser, the company is obliged to pursue the issue, otherwise the employee would be able to take them to court.

Recent legal decisions have determined that just trying your luck in the workplace can constitute sexual harassment.

Similarly, making inappropriate jokes can impair an employees’ dignity and be found to constitute harassment.

*View the attached video for more on the issues of sexual harrassment in the workplace


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