HARASSMENT is any improper conduct by an individual that is directed at and offensive to another person or persons in the workplace, and that the individual knew or ought to have reasonably known, would cause offense or harm. It includes any objectionable act, comment or display that demeans, belittles or carries personal humiliation or embarrassment, and any act of intimidation or threat. Harassment in the workplace affects the well-being of the individuals adversely. It is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
For many workplaces, preventing sexual harassment and defending workers from it,
All persons working for the LGS, whether or not they are employees, should enjoy a harassment-free workplace. The service is committed to providing a work environment where all persons working for the service are treated with respect and dignity.
WHAT IS SEXUAL HARASSMENT
Sexual harassment is an unwelcomed sexual behavior that is offensive, humiliating or intimidating. It can be written, verbal or physical, and can happen in-person or online.
Anybody can experience sexual harassment, regardless of their gender. When it happens at work, school or Uni sexual harassment may amount to a form of discrimination.
WHAT DOES SEXUAL HARASSMENT INCLUDE:
- Touching, grabbing or making other physical contact with you without your consent.
- Making comments to you that have a sexual meaning.
- Asking you for sex or sexual favors.
- Luring and staring at you.
- Displaying nude and offensive material so that you or others can see it.
- Making sexual questions suggestive body movements towards you.
- Questioning you about your sex life.
- Indecently exposing themselves to you
- Sexually assaulting you.
EFFECTS OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT ON THE VICTIM
For many work places, preventing sexual harassment and defending workers from it, have become key goals of legal decision-making. Some common effects of sexual harassment on the victim are:
- Stress and social withdrawal;
- Sleep and eating difficulties;
- Overall health impairment;
- Deceased work performance;
- Fear of humiliation by gossips;
- Loss of trust in similar environment;
- Self-abnegation-loss of self-esteem;
- Loss of motivation, withdrawal and isolation;
- Suicide attempts;
- Traumatic stress.
It is the policy of the LGS that all workers are responsible for ensuring that the work place is free from sexual harassment, because the Service strongly disapproves inappropriate sexual behavior at work places. All workers must therefore avoid any conduct or action which could be viewed as sexual harassment. Sexual harassment occurs when:
- Submission to the harassment is made either explicitly or implicitly a condition of employment;
- Submission to or rejection of the harassment is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting the individual;
- The harasser has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating intimidating, hostile or offensive environment.
Any worker who has a complaint of sexual harassment at work by anyone, including the supervisor, co-worker or visitor, should first clearly inform the harasser that his/her behavior was unacceptable and unwelcome, and insist that the behavior should cease. If this continues, the worker must immediately report the matter to his/her supervisor. If the immediate supervisor is the harasser, the violation should report to a higher authority or the HR Directorate who can be reached (telephone number).
If the HR Directorate receives a report of sexual harassment involving physical harm, for instance, the harasser is suspended and an investigation team constituted to do thorough investigation and to report back within one week. If the investigation supports sexual harassment, disciplinary action is taken against the alleged harasser. It is possible that the harasser could be dismissed. If investigation reveals that the charges were false with malicious intent, the charging party may be subject to disciplinary action, and may be dismissed. If any worker is dissatisfied with management’s response to his/her complaint, the matter should be reported at the HR Directorate to arrange for an appeal process.
The most effective way to avoid sexual harassment in the work place is for the LGS to adopt a clear policy prohibiting it for the attention of workers. The main objectives of the policy are:
- To educate the entire workers of the LGS of the existence of the policy;
- To emphasize the importance of the policy and draw attention to all its implementation;
- To build the confidence of workers that their work environment is safe;
- To assure workers that if they are harassed they can seek redress without retaliation;
- To alert senior staff of sanctions they face if they indulge in sexual harassment.
MEASURES TO REDUCE/STOP SEXUAL HARASSMENT.
- Application of oral or written warning or reprimand;
- Transfer of victim
- Reduction in rank;
- Suspension without pay;
- Monitoring of harasser to ensure that it is not repeated;
- Training/ counseling of harasser;
THE CASE OF RETALIATION
In Ghana, both men and women can be victims of sexual harassment. However, failure to remedy and prevent harassment, retaliation and wrongful dismissal could make this emotional distress an acceptable norm.
Sexual harassment may culminate in a retaliatory discharge when the victim no longer submits to sexual demands of a superior officer. In ‘’quid pro quo’’ harassment, the victim may have been employed by agreeing to exchange sex for the employment. (‘Quid pro quo’ in Latin stands for; ‘this for that’ or ‘something for something’). If at a certain stage, the victim resists a sex attempt, it could result in retaliation. Many victims suffer from retaliation and backlash at work places and it is the role of management to see to nib this in the bud.
There are three processes involved, namely; the Informal, Management process and the Formal.
- The Informal process:
A worker who has a complaint may contact a more senior officer of supervisor to discuss a resolution. In most cases, an amicable solution is reached and the case ends. However, when the matter is not resolved, victim may pursue the matter further and this goes to the management process.
- Management Process.
This is a higher level than the informal level. An investigation is instituted and after about four weeks a meeting is held and a decision taken in the presence of a witness of the victim, the matter is taken to the formal level after the victim has submitted an application.
- Formal Process
This level calls for another investigation team to act and submit their report to management. If the harasser, at this level, is found capable and depending on the seriousness of the matter, may result in removal or dismissal.