Too often, we mistake kindness for being flirtatious. Yet not everyone has good intentions. We are often too afraid to report sexual harassment in the workplace because we are so scared of what other people might say.

What is Sexual Harassment

The Good of Good Practice on the Prevention and Elimination of Harassment in the Workplace[1] defines harassment as:

  1. Unwanted conduct which impairs dignity, which creates a hostile or intimidating work environment for one or more employees or is calculated to;
  2. Or has been the effect of inducing submission by actual;
  3. Or threatened adverse consequences;
  4. And is related to one or more grounds in respect of which discrimination is prohibited in terms of Section 6(1) of the Employment Equity Act (EEA).[2]

Section 6 of the EEA describes harassment as a form of unfair discrimination and the unfair discrimination listed in subsection 1.[3]

How to report Sexual Harassment

You might feel dispondentt to report harassment, not to mention sexual harassment. Too often, we mistake kindness for flirtation, but when you have been exposed to harassment, you should trust your instinct and report such behaviour to your superior.

There are two ways that you can deal with harassment, being informal and formal.

The informal manner of reporting sexual harassment is to approach the abuser and inform him or her that their behaviour is making you feel uncomfortable, or you can write to the abuser and inform him or her that their behaviour is making you feel uncomfortable. It is essential to keep a copy of the letter. You can send the letter via registered mail so that you can have proof that the letter was sent, or you can ask someone to speak to the abuser on your behalf. If, after all the attempts mentioned above, the abuser does not stop with their harassment, the next step is to lodge a formal complaint.

When informing your superior of the harassment, you need to inform him or her that you tried reaching out to the abuser, but they are continuing with the harassment. When the grievance is lodged with your superior, timelines should be set out on how to deal with the harassment expeditiously. An investigation needs to be held. However, the matter should be handled with caution, as for any inquiry of a grievance of sexual harassment, that the aggrieved person is not disadvantaged and that the position of other parties is not prejudiced if the resentment is found to be unwarranted. Schedule 8 of the Labour Relations Act provides that an employee may be dismissed for serious misconduct.[4] Serious incidents of sexual harassment or continued harassment after warnings are dismissible offences.


Sexual harassment complaints are pretty sensitive, as well as the harm they may cause the parties involved, predominantly the victims. Therefore, it is essential to seek legal advice to ensure that the complaints are investigated adequately and even-handedly. This is to ensure that all parties are fairly dealt with and that employers do not incur liability.

Contact an attorney at SchoemanLaw Inc for your legal needs!

[1] The Good of Good Practice on the Prevention and Elimination of Harassment in the Workplace, March 2022

[2] Employment Equity Act, 55 of 1998.

[3] Section 6, Act 55 of 1998.

[4] Labour Relations Act, 66 of 1995