The EOC Welcomes District Court Ruling on Sexual Harassment
The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) welcomes today’s judgment (DCEO 9/2010) by the District Court in favour of a woman who was sexually harassed by her colleague in the workplace and that the harasser’s employer was vicariously liable for the sexual harassment act.
“Sexual harassment remains a common occurrence in the workplace. We welcome the Court’s ruling and hope that it will send a strong message to all employers that they need to take sexual harassment complaints in the workplace seriously,” said Mr. LAM Woon-kwong, Chairperson of the EOC.
The respondent (the employer) in this case had not taken any reasonable steps to deal with sexual harassment acts which are defined as “unwelcome sexual advance, verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.”
“Sexual harassment’s consequences can be costly to both employers and employees,” Mr. LAM continued. “Employers will face low staff morale, tarnished reputation, payouts for legal costs and poor spirit. Affected employees will face emotional stress, anxiety and even depression. Sexual harassment does not only affect the victim, it affects the entire company and other employees as well,” he elaborated.
“Preventing and stopping sexual harassment in the workplace is an obligation for the employer under the Sex Discrimination Ordinance. Employers can be held liable for sexual harassment even if they are unaware that such conduct is taking place. They should therefore take all practicable and reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment before it occurs,” said Mr. LAM.
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Equal Opportunities Commission
6 June 2012