Bill is not about banning jokes at work – Lady Haynes

An independent senator is warning that the Employment Sexual Harassment (Protection) Bill 2017 must not be seen as a vehicle for banning jokes or touching in the workplace.

Instead, Lady Carol Haynes, whose professional title is Dr Carol Jacobs, said the measure must be seen as a means to protect vulnerable men and women at work.

“The fact is within a workplace it is very possible to make risqué jokes, to tease someone without it either being [offensive]. That is where I will ask for sensitivity in the trainer of trainers because we do not want a workplace where people believe you cannot touch a specific lady, or make a joke in front of her. That is not what we are trying to do with this bill. What we are trying to do is to protect women and sometimes men who are in vulnerable positions. We want to ensure that we still have a workplace where we can enjoy ourselves and we can have good repartee,” she told the Senate today as she threw her support behind the legislation.

The bill, which was piloted by Minister of Labour Senator Esther Byer-Suckoo in Parliament last week, seeks to prevent the “use of sexually suggestive words, comments, jokes, gestures or actions that annoy, alarm or abuse a person”.

Under the legislation “the initiation of uninvited physical contact with a person . . . unwelcome sexual advances or the requests of sexual favours . . . asking a person intrusive questions that are of a sexual nature that pertain to that person’s private life; transmitting sexually offensive writing or material of any kind; making sexually offensive telephone calls to a person; or any other sexually suggestive conduct of an offensive nature” may be deemed sexual harassment.

In announcing last month that the legislation was under way, Byer-Suckoo had told a campaign meeting of the Democratic Labour Party in St George South that it was “not about locking people because a man ‘psst’ at a woman . . . It is about ensuring that a person’s rights are protected and a person can function in dignity”.

Today, Lady Haynes said it was critical that timeframes, as well as proper procedures and indicators were put in place to monitor the impact of the legislation.

Critically, she added, there must be emphasis on eliminating sexual harassment in the workplace altogether.

“I think the bill spells out that because it mentions prevention, but I think where we need to go is creating a culture where managers do not have to be dealing with harassment issues on a regular basis,” the former chairman of the National HIV/AIDS Commission said.

In fact, Lady Haynes said the bill was a good takeoff point from which to start thinking of tolerance and acceptance of people living with HIV/AIDS, gay men and lesbians, even though Byer-Suckoo made it clear that Government was not opening the door to legalizing homosexuality.

4 Responses to Bill is not about banning jokes at work – Lady Haynes

  1. Carson C Cadogan October 19, 2017 at 6:37 am

    If this bill is so gender neutral, how is it that only women are rejoicing?

    Reply
  2. Carson C Cadogan October 19, 2017 at 9:20 am

    I will bet all the tea in China, that this piece of legislation will be used against only BLACK men.

    Black men in Barbados might as well hop on a plane and head to some other country to live. Along with the legislation dealing with Marriage and now this, BLACK men will be completely dispossessed in Barbados.

    Reply
  3. Randolph October 19, 2017 at 9:47 am

    Agree Carson.A lot of innocent men will be wrongfully accused by women for one reason or another.You will not even be able to look at a woman now without being accused of sexual harassment.Remember who brought the bill to Parliament.

    Reply
  4. Carson C Cadogan October 21, 2017 at 6:34 am

    “”THE ISSUE of sexual harassment in the workplace is more likely to be addressed through workplace policies that are enforced, rather than legislation. That is the view of attorney-at-law Cecil McCarthy, QC, who spoke to the issue at a recent meeting of the Men’s Education Support Association (MESA) at the St Michael School. McCarthy went through the proposed legislation and addressed some issues which MESA had raised questions about as far back as 2004. MESA chairman Ralph Boyce maintained that there were about ten areas of the proposed bill that were flawed and that it was likely to harm men more than women. While McCarthy endorsed the proposed legislation, he said some of the drafting needed to be “tightened”. “”

    Reply

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