Free MOOC on Prevention of Sexual Harassment at the Workplace
Unit 2: Understanding Legal Framework
There are many clarifications and definitions which this unit provides. It answers certain key questions, which are explained as follows.
Who does the act protect? It covers a range of employees, permanent as well as contractual. One major criticism of this act is that it is applicable only in situations where female employees are harassed by males at the workplace.
Who is an employer? The Sexual Harassment Act covers various different categories of employers, including government and private sector institutions, management/board members of any organization and even those who provide contractual work. It also includes those who employ domestic workers.
What is a workplace? All government and private sector organizations, hospitals/nursing homes, sports facilities and homes. An interesting inclusion in this is any place an employee visits as part of work (including transportation).
What is sexual harassment? One or more of the following: Physical contact/advances, demands/requests for sexual favours, making sexually coloured remarks, showing pornography, any other unwelcome remark/physical/non-verbal communication, of a sexual nature.
What are the duties of an employer to tackle sexual harassment at workplace? Display penal consequences of sexual harassment at an appropriate location in the workplace; provide safe working environment; organize trainings and orientation programs to sensitize employees; provide assistance to female employees if and when sexual harassment takes place;initiate action against perpetrator; and treat sexual harassment as misconduct.
In addition to this, this section also provides an elaboration of contexts in which actions amount to sexual harassment at the workplace.
There is also a brief mention of the universally recognized US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which provides comprehensive guidelines on conduct that amounts to sexual harassment.
The unit ends with a passing remark on the fact that the act doesn’t tackle gender based discrimination at the workplace.
The supplementary material provided in the module is a document delineating many illustrations and examples of different instances of sexual harassment at the workplace. I found it extremely useful, as the examples enabled me to understand clearly, as to what exactly classifies as sexual harassment. Three video lectures are also included, which summarize the module. I found the video lectures to be an effective and crisp manner in which the module can be understood quickly.
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