There have been several cases, in recent years, which have seen employees who allege sexual harassment against another employee being awarded substantial damages. Employers are often unaware of their liability stemming from this type of incident. In this article, we will show you what the guidelines are, for an employer, when dealing with sexual harassment cases in the workplace.

In the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) case of Jordaan/Capitec Bank Ltd – (2017) 26 CCMA 8.25.3., the employee was dismissed for sexually harassing a much younger female subordinate by touching her inappropriately. While the employee did not deny the alleged misconduct, he brushed it off saying that it only happened once, he was just a friendly guy and his subordinate had been flirting with him.

CCMA Commissioner’s Assessment

In assessing the merits of the matter, the Commissioner noted that the alleged victim was clearly upset by the incident. She even left the proceedings. Her corroborated evidence was not sufficiently contradicted by the evidence of the employee who had been accused. The alleged victim’s version was further corroborated by her e-mails which clearly illustrated her trauma because of the unwelcome conduct.

After evaluating the evidence and – having considered the Code of Good Practice on Sexual Harassment – the Commissioner ruled that the conduct of the employee constituted sexual harassment and that dismissal was appropriate.

The lesson here is that you must act in an appropriate manner and not find yourself guilty of behaviour as displayed in this case. Added to this, employers need to train all staff on what constitutes sexual harassment and how to prevent this. Employers should not forget their potential vicarious liability should they fail in their obligation to ensure a safe workplace.

Contact Global Business Solutions

If you’re looking for any assistance in terms of your labour law and HR practices in your business, please don’t hesitate to contact us! Follow this link to leave us your details or email us on [email protected].