Labour Court's landmark ruling opens doors: Employers to be held accountable for sexual harassment in the workplace
In a far-reaching judgment on Friday 14 November 2003, the Cape Town labour court ruled in favour of a female ex-security guard and paved the way for employers to be held accountable for sexual harassment in the workplace.
"It is clear that the inaction of the respondent was unfair and led to a situation that became an intolerable environment for the applicant to continue employment. She (the complainant) was then compelled to terminate her contract of employment... the respondent ought to have foreseen the development of hostile and intolerable working environment in the circumstances," said acting judge Ronnie Pillay.
The case was taken up by the Women's Legal Centre, and revolved around Bongiwe Ntsabo, a female security guard who was repeatedly subjected to sexual harassment and was indecently assaulted by her supervisor, a Mr Dlomo, at the end of 1999.
Ntsabo was formerly employed by Real Security CC owned by Mr and Mrs Fisher of Mitchells Plain.
The judge, finding for the applicant, awarded Ntsabo R82 000 in compensation under the Employment Equity Act and the Labour Relations Act.
Ntsabo claimed for sexual harassment, constructive dismissal, and damages for both financial and non-financial loss.
One of the lawyers from the Centre representing Ntsabo said on Friday that the ruling meant that employers had a duty to take action when they became aware of sexual harassment in the workplace.
"Now employers are liable for the sexual harassment perpetrated by employees on co-employees," said Hayley Galgut.
"I don't think that the floodgates to litigation will be opened because each case will have to be decided on its merits," she said.
Galgut emphasised part of the judgement, which recognised that the reporting of incidents of sexual harassment should occur within a reasonable time and that what is reasonable depended on the "trauma and circumstances" of the individual complainant.
Using rape as an example of the myth that complainants must report immediately if they are to be believed, Galgut particularly welcomed this section of the judgment, which clearly dispelled this myth.
Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/gwdhmoih/public_html/templates/gk_news2/html/com_k2/templates/default/item.php on line 176
- Fixing a toxic culture like Uber's requires more than just a new CEO
- How companies can learn to root out sexual harassment
- How to recognise and start tackling sexual harassment in the workplace
- Women in mining still exploited and sexually harassed
- Recent labour Court rulings that affect the employment relationship
Latest from Gary Watkins
- CCMA’S OPERATIONS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
- RSM South Africa: Do you have a recovery plan?
- National Planning Commission on small business as spine of economic recovery and stimulation for post Coronavirus COVID-19 era
- Tourism Minister hosts a media briefing on Lockdown Alert Level 3
- Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane on Coronavirus COVID-19 alert level 3 tourism sector directions