Trinidad: Women can sexually harass employers to seek promotions— JSC member

Acting Chief Labour Relations Officer of the Labour and Small Enterprise Development Ministry, Sabina Gomez, right, answers questions during the joint select committee on Human Rights and Diversity’s inquiry into sexual harassment in the workplace, yesterday. At left is Employers Consultative Association Chairman Keston Nancoo. Labour and Small Enterprise Development Ministry Deputy Permanent secretary Kevar Williams is at centre.

(Trinidad Guardian) Women are not al­ways the vic­tim in sex­u­al ha­rass­ment is­sues since some can en­tice em­ploy­ers with promised sex­u­al at­ten­tion to get favourable treat­ment, says Joint Se­lect Com­mit­tee mem­ber Hazel Thomp­son-Ahye.

She said one can­not al­ways look at women as the vic­tim in sex­u­al ha­rass­ment cas­es though this was true in the ma­jor­i­ty, “but the sit­u­a­tion al­so works the oth­er way too,”

Thomp­son-Ahye made the point at yes­ter­day’s JSC (Hu­man Rights, Equal­i­ty and Di­ver­si­ty) meet­ing on sex­u­al ha­rass­ment in the work­place.

The com­mit­tee heard about cas­es where vic­tims were fe­males, as well as males be­ing ha­rassed by a fe­male se­nior of­fi­cer and a case where both vic­tim and al­leged per­pe­tra­tor were males.

But she said it had not been ex­am­ined— up to that point—that an em­ploy­er could be ha­rassed.

Thomp­son-Ahye said some women may seek to en­tice em­ploy­ers to act in their favour “and this cre­ates an un­favourable ad­van­tage for her and it al­so poi­sons the work­place en­vi­ron­ment.”

Thomp­son-Ahye said a fe­male em­ploy­ee can sex­u­al­ly ha­rass an em­ploy­er to seek a pro­mo­tion, hold­ing out to them a promise of sex­u­al favour and it may be un­want­ed by the em­ploy­er.

She said: “Is the em­ploy­er to re­port the mat­ter to him­self? How is this dealt with, to whom does he turn?”

Sabi­na Gomez (Labour Min­istry Chief Labour Re­la­tions of­fi­cer) replied that such sit­u­a­tions were a dis­ci­pli­nary mat­ter and em­ploy­ers had rights to dis­ci­pline as they saw fit.

She said if a man­ag­er was sub­ject to such treat­ment, they should re­port it in writ­ing to a se­nior of­fi­cer.

If the em­ploy­er of the com­pa­ny was the per­son who was ha­rassed, Gomez said they should put the mat­ter to a Hu­man Re­sources Di­vi­sion in the com­pa­ny who should deal with it with­in dis­ci­pli­nary guide­lines.

She stressed all such ha­rass­ment is­sues—re­gard­less of who the vic­tim was—must be doc­u­ment­ed for the record. She said an em­ploy­er should not be afraid to deal with such a mat­ter if the ha­rass­er was an em­ploy­ee.

How­ev­er, JSC chair­man Nyan Gads­by-Dol­ly said em­ploy­ers should be afraid since there might be a counter-claim that the em­ploy­er had ha­rassed the em­ploy­ee.

Gomez said in small com­pa­nies, the em­ploy­er could seek ad­vice from the Min­istry’s Con­cil­i­a­tion Unit which usu­al­ly ad­vised an em­ploy­er to write the em­ploy­ee of the oc­cur­rence and the min­istry mon­i­tors it from there to see if the em­ploy­er’s HR de­part­ment ad­dress­es it.

She said it was im­por­tant that a third par­ty is told of the is­sue.

An em­ploy­er is al­so ad­vised to write the em­ploy­ee, in­form­ing them that they’d act­ed in­ap­pro­pri­ate­ly, she said.

Em­ploy­ers Con­sul­ta­tive As­so­ci­a­tion CEO Stephanie Fin­gal, who said the ECA al­so ad­vised em­ploy­ers on such sit­u­a­tions, stressed the need for doc­u­ment­ing in­ci­dents.

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