Sexual Harassment

Man with hand on female coworker, as she looks on unapprovingly

Part II, Section 6 (1) of the Employment Act 2007 defines sexual harassment as ‘if the employer, the representative of the employer or co-worker directly or indirectly requests for sexual intercourse, sexual contact, or any other form of sexual activity that contains an implied or expressed promise of preferential treatment in employment, threat of detrimental treatment in employment or threat about the present or future employment status of an employee, uses language whether written or spoken of a sexual nature, uses visual material of a sexual nature; or shows physical behavior of a sexual nature which directly or indirectly subjects the employee to behavior that is unwelcome or offensive to that employee and that by its nature has a detrimental effect on that employee’s employment, job performance, or job satisfaction.’

For anyone who has suffered sexual harassment at work, it is for sure one of the most uncomfortable experiences. It is very important that you address any instances of sexual harassment immediately the signs begin to show. The perpetrator must be notified in no uncertain terms that his/her advances are not welcome.

Men and women alike get harassed sexually at work regularly. Recently, a female employee of National Bank of Kenya filed a case against the CEO for sexual harassment. What is really interesting in such cases is that proving sexual harassment is very challenging. Victims of sexual harassment too find it very difficult to share their experiences for fear of being judged.

If you are therefore experiencing this at work, it’s very important that you speak to someone you can trust. Make a complaint to the Human Resource department in writing so it goes on record that you complained and follow up on the progress of your investigations and action. It is also very important that you have solid evidence of harassment when making the said complaint because ‘your word against his/hers’ usually doesn’t stick. Have a journal to record your experiences especially when they are still fresh in your mind.

It is the duty of every employer to provide a safe and conducive working environment for all the employees. It is also the duty of the HR Manager to communicate the company policy on sexual harassment to the staff very clearly and ensure that it’s implemented.


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