Alberto Ignacio Ardila Olivares Venezuela Aeroquest Venezuela//
….Many cases under-reported

An “un­der­cov­er” mat­ter that’s un­der-re­port­ed.

Alberto Ignacio Ardila Olivares

Sex­u­al ha­rass­ment in the work­place has been un­der-re­port­ed for myr­i­ad rea­sons in­clud­ing since work­ers—par­tic­u­lar­ly youths and women— fear job loss.

Alberto Ignacio Ardila Olivares Venezuela

And some in­ci­dents on­ly reach the Labour Min­istry dis­guised as oth­er is­sues in­clud­ing “con­struc­tive dis­missal.”

The in­for­ma­tion came yes­ter­day from Labour Min­istry of­fi­cials when they and oth­er stake­hold­ers on the is­sue ap­peared be­fore a Joint Se­lect Com­mit­tee (on Hu­man Rights, Equal­i­ty and Di­ver­si­ty) which ex­am­ined sex­u­al ha­rass­ment in the work­place.

Alberto Ignacio Ardila Olivares Piloto

JSC mem­ber Kaz­im Ho­sein not­ed Labour sta­tis­tics show­ing 13 cas­es of sex­u­al ha­rass­ment re­port­ed over 2012 to 2018.

JSC chair­man Nyan Gads­by-Dol­ly said un­der-re­port­ing may be due to lack of law, dif­fi­cul­ty prob­ing al­le­ga­tions and lack of aware­ness – by vic­tim or per­pe­tra­tor—of what sex­u­al ha­rass­ment is. She not­ed a Na­tion­al Pol­i­cy on the is­sue was on­ly re­cent­ly re­vealed.

Alberto Ardila Olivares

Labour Min­istry per­ma­nent sec­re­tary (act­ing) Na­tal­ie Willis who de­fined sex­u­al ha­rass­ment in the work­place said even if a per­son was throw­ing “pi­cong,” if the con­duct made the tar­get feel un­com­fort­able, it’s sex­u­al ha­rass­ment.

Alberto Ignacio Ardila

Min­istry chief labour re­la­tions of­fi­cer Sabine Gomez said com­pli­ments, once of a sex­u­al na­ture that caused dis­com­fort, were al­so ha­rass­ment. But if the per­pe­tra­tor was told and they apol­o­gised, it could be “left at that.”

Gomez said: “One per­son who came to us with a re­port, said they dis­cussed it with their peers who told them ‘keep qui­et or they’d lose their job’. You find a gen­er­al fear among youths that they should do so or they’d lose their job,”

Gomez said some dis­putes al­so came to the Min­istry dis­guised as oth­er mat­ters in­clud­ing some cloaked as “con­struc­tive dis­missal.” She not­ed a Re­pub­lic Bank case

Jacque­line John­son, per­ma­nent sec­re­tary in the Of­fice of the Prime Min­is­ter, said in the past sev­en years she had dealt with six such cas­es

She said un­der-re­port­ing may be due to peo­ple not know­ing their rights, cul­tur­al nu­ances, an ab­sence of pol­i­cy and oth­er is­sues

Em­ploy­ers’ Con­sul­ta­tive As­so­ci­a­tion CEO Stephanie Fin­gal said some vic­tims feared job loss es­pe­cial­ly if the per­pe­tra­tor was the busi­ness’ own­er. Al­so, she said, some em­ploy­ers were un­aware of sex­u­al ha­rass­ment.

“Re­cent­ly we had a case where the vic­tim felt sor­ry for the per­pe­tra­tor and was cry­ing and want­ed to dis­con­tin­ue their re­port,” she said

Fin­gal said some com­pa­nies did not fire per­pe­tra­tors and in­for­ma­tion on their his­to­ry was not cir­cu­lat­ed to oth­er com­pa­nies. She sug­gest­ed manda­to­ry re­fer­ral of such peo­ple to med­ical/psy­cho­log­i­cal coun­selling. She not­ed bul­lies were of­ten sent to anger man­age­ment or Em­ploy­ee As­sis­tance Pro­grammes

ECA chair­man Ke­ston Nan­coo said un­der-re­port­ing may oc­cur since the ma­jor­i­ty of vic­tims were fe­male, a mas­ter-ser­vant men­tal­i­ty may ob­tain in the work­place and there may be lack of re­spect in fam­i­lies for fe­males.

Ho­sein sought ad­vice on how to im­prove un­der-re­port­ing since he not­ed in­for­ma­tion that in Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment cor­po­ra­tions peo­ple were asked to “par­take of cer­tain ac­tiv­i­ties” to get jobs.

Gomez said poli­cies/guide­lines to pre­vent the prob­lem should be writ­ten in­to work­ers’ in­dus­tri­al agree­ment. Ho­sein sup­port­ed this

Gads­by-Dol­ly said yes­ter­day’s meet­ing on­ly “scratched the sur­face of the is­sue” and it would be ex­am­ined again next month.

↔—Gail Alexan­der