#metoo: Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

In recent months there has been a resurgence of conversations regarding the absence of a sexual harassment legislation in Jamaica. The legislation we hope would clarify the boundaries of what is prohibited, to encourage prevention (through sexual harassment policies) and to provide an early response mechanism within workplaces, to ensure fair treatment of workers during disciplinary proceedings. Having a legislation would require the employer to keep the workplace free from harassment.

For many women and men in the workplace, they do not know what constitutes sexual harassment and there is a culture of silence surrounding this topic in Jamaica because we have concluded that being groped or spoken to inappropriately by a member of the same or opposite sex while working is the norm. Harassment in the workplace can be classified into two groups that covers sexual misconduct in its entirety: Hostile Environment and the Quid Pro Quo Effect in the workplace. A hostile environment means that whenever you are working you have someone that is constantly trying to touch you inappropriately, trying to get in your space even when you are consistently telling them no and that you do not like the idea of them approaching you in that way. While the Quid Pro Quo reaction is when another person attempts to get you to perform a sexual activity to them for you to be promoted or propel your career.

If you feel that you are being harassed on the job, you can take the following steps:

  1. Let the harasser know immediately from the first time it happens that you disapprove.
  2. Document the incident in writing the first time it happens. Keep a record of what was said or done, the time, date and location, and continue to document subsequent utterances or actions.
  3. Speak to other persons in your office as there may be other persons facing the same harassment but are too afraid to say anything.
  4. Speak to someone in your Human Resource Department to find out what policy is in place and the complaint procedure.
  5. And finally, you can take legal action if nothing is done by your employer to ameliorate the situation. Furthermore, if you are dissatisfied with the actions taken by your employer, you can seek independent legal counsel within the purview offered under Jamaican laws.

Additionally, if you are dismissed from your workplace because you refused some sexual advance from a colleague, the recommended response is to report this to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security or your Attorney.

About Author:

Abi-Gaye White-Thomas B.A., LL.B (Hons)
Attorney-at-Law
Manchester, Jamaica

Tel: (876)964-4046
Whatsapp: (876)827-8050
Email: law@balcostics.com

Defamation and Social Media: Freedom of Speech but to what extent?

“Mi ago talk di tings on mi Facebook/Instagram/Twitter” is a common saying by Jamaicans in recent years as persons use social media to vent their frustrations with individuals and companies, as well as to partake in and share the latest gossip. Both reliable and unreliable information is shared with equal exuberance.

But to what extent can one really ‘talk di tings dem’?

Continue reading Defamation and Social Media: Freedom of Speech but to what extent?

Getting a Divorce in Jamaica: What you should know

For divorce proceedings to start there are certain requirements which must be satisfied. In Jamaica, the only ground for a divorce is the irretrievable breakdown of the union. It is important to note that the parties would have to be separated for at least twelve (12) months.

There are generally three phases to a divorce:

  1. The “Petition” stage,
  2. The “Decree Nisi” stage, and
  3. The “Decree Absolute” stage.

A lawyer representing the Petitioner will lodge, at the Supreme Court, the Divorce “Petition” outlining that the marriage has broken down irretrievably along with the “Affidavit Accompanying Petition” which is a statement concerning the arrangements for the children (under age eighteen (18) years or who are under twenty-three (23) and are attending a tertiary institution) and the “Acknowledgment of Service” AOS, which is a form/questionnaire for the Respondent (other party). The AOS is filed and served on the Respondent with the other documents.

Service of the documents is very important in Divorce cases, as it is imperative that the other party is made aware of the proceedings commenced to terminate their union. Personal service is the standard, meaning the documents are given directly to the other party, but this cannot be done by the Petitioner, but preferably by a person unrelated to the parties. Where this is not possible, the lawyer for the Petitioner may apply for another method to be used, referred to as “Substituted Service.” This is service done by way of advertisements in a popular newspaper published in the town where the Respondent lives and/or service on a member of the Respondent’s family who would most likely be in touch with him/her.

An Application for the Decree Nisi will have to be made with accompanying documents which will be perused by the Court. If the Respondent does not contest the divorce, this means it is undefended and the Judge is then charged with the duty of reading through the documents to see if the Petitioner has proved their case, and if this is found to be the case, then a Decree Nisi will be granted.

The final stage to a divorce is the granting of a Decree Absolute. There is a waiting period of at least 6 weeks after the Decree Nisi has been granted before the Decree Absolute can be applied for. The granting of the Decree Absolute is the final nail in the coffin of the marriage. The marriage is thus dissolved.

About Author:

Abi-Gaye White-Thomas B.A., LL.B (Hons)
Attorney-at-Law
Manchester, Jamaica

Tel: (876)964-4046
Whatsapp: (876)805-6688
Email: law@balcostics.com