CCMAGroundUp reports that the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) has found that an employer must act when sexual harassment takes place on its premises, even if this is during a meeting which the employer has not authorised.  

An employee of the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, who was subjected to “gross sexual harassment” at a union meeting on the department’s premises, has been awarded 10 months’ salary by the CCMA.  And the department, which ignored her complaint telling her to “take it up with the union”, has been found to be in breach of the Employment Equity Amendment Act and directed to take immediate steps to prevent any similar incidences against her or any other employee.  Evidence before the commissioner was that the woman had attended a Public Servants Association shop stewards’ meeting in June 2019.  The meeting was held during office hours at the department’s premises.  While seated at the table, she noticed that the trousers of a colleague were unbuttoned and he was masturbating.  The next day the employee lodged a formal grievance of sexual harassment in terms of the department’s procedure.  But more than a month later, she was informed that the department was “unable to assist her” because the incident occurred between her and a fellow union member while they were meeting in the interests of the union. She was told to refer her grievance to the union. Instead she approached the CCMA, which ruled that the department should have investigated the complaint because both persons involved were employees “and it happened on the premises while they were on duty”.


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