Attorney tackles sexual harassment in the workplace

ATTORNEY-AT-LAW Kwame Gordon has outlined the need for the removal of sexual harassment in the workplace. A partner at Samuda & Johnson Attorneysat- Law and a recognised expert in employment law, Gordon was speaking at the recently held Employee Engagement Conference hosted by the Jamaica Business Development Corporation.

Gordon explained that currently there is no existing legislation which specifically speaks to sexual harassment, however; a Bill was tabled in July 2019.

The Bill, in its current draft, seeks to impose various duties on an employer, such as initiating a workplace policy which details how sexual complaints may be lodged; issuing a policy statement against sexual harassment (for workforce of over 20 people); and dealing immediately with such cases when they arise, a release has said.

While this Bill has been tabled, the question asked in the interim is, ‘How are complaints to be handled?’ Gordon gave a few examples: As a safety and health issue, where the employer fails to provide a safe working environment and/or fails to provide competent staff; as a crime under the Offences Against The Person Act, if the act complained of is coupled with a criminal act, such as an assault.

According to the release, Gordon emphasised that the effort to reduce complaints of sexual harassment starts at the interview stage and carries right through to the hiring and employment stages. He also urged employers to provide a safe and confidential way for their employees to lodge complaints.