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(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.