The Chairman of the Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC) is advocating that the country adopt a position of zero tolerance towards sexual harassment.
Lynette Seebaran-Suite says workers, trade unions, government, business and civil society must come together on this issue.
According to Mrs Seebaran-Suite, far too often, the victims of sexual harassment are further victimised, traumatised and harassed because they stand up for themselves—and that’s just plain wrong.
Lay assessor of the Equal Opportunity Tribunal (EOT), Leela Ramdeen, says the time has come for legislation specifically tackling sexual harassment to be introduced.
In an interview at the EOT's office on Manic Street in Chaguanas, Ramdeen said until the state amends or creates a law specific to sexual harassment outside of the criminal act that covers it, no one is protected.
A call for proper systems -- including clear cut legislation -- to be put in place to deal with cases of sexual harassment in this country.
It comes in light of the recent furore surrounding the Darryl Smith Report -- the outcome of a probe of sexual harassment allegations against the former minister, and a wrongful dismissal claim by the alleged victim.
According to HR consultant, Cavelle Joseph-St Omer, it is imperative that there are properly trained practitioners to handle sexual harassment cases in this country.
Former government minister Devant Maharaj is questioning whether attorney Elaine Green will continue to receive state briefs, given the outcome of the Darryl Smith Report.
The report has been discarded. It was commissioned by the prime minister, to determine the circumstances surrounding the dismissal of Smith's personal assistant, after she filed a wrongful dismissal lawsuit and sexual harassment claims against him.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley appears not to have told the entire truth when he spoke at yesterday’s post-Cabinet news conference and claimed that he could not make the report into the conduct of former Sports and Youth Affairs minister Darryl Smith available to the public because Smith was not given a chance by the investigative committee to give his side of the story.
Rowley told the news conference: “It was confirmed he was not spoken to by the compilers of the report but they came to conclusions adverse to Mr Smith.”
The prime minister’s attorney, Michael Quamina, has confirmed that he is the Quamina mentioned in the Darryl Smith Report.
Speaking on THE MORNING BREW today, Mr Quamina told us that he was brought in to the case at the point in time when it appeared the conciliation proceedings for a wrongful dismissal matter, which were taking place at the labour ministry, were not going to bear fruit.
Former government minister, Ralph Maraj, says Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley needs to account to the country for his statement that the Smith Report could not be made public, since Mr Smith had not been interviewed by the investigative committee.
It has since been revealed that Darryl Smith was interviewed by the committee, which was probing the sexual harassment allegations against him.
Speaking on THE MORNING BREW today, Ralph Maraj stated that the PM needs to let the people know whether he was ill-informed on the matter, or whether he told an outright untruth.
Cover up! That is one of the major findings of the report of a committee set up by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to investigate the circumstances surrounding the dismissal and payment of $150,000 to a former employee of the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs, after she alleged that she was sexually harassed by the former minister Darryl Smith.
Criminal law attorney, Mario Merritt, believes the non-disclosure agreement signed between former sports minister Darryl Smith and the person who accused him of sexual harassment, may not be valid.
He says this is because an NDA cannot be used to cover-up an actual crime.
“The law prohibits contracts that are against public policy. If you’re dealing with a normal trade dispute, it’s not a problem,” he explains. “But if you are using an NDA to hide a criminal act, then that agreement is void; it has no value. You can’t use a contractual relationship to allow crime.”
Head of FIXIN T&T, Kirk Waithe, says the allegations of cover-up in the Darryl Smith matter, are extremely worrying, and he believes it is time the police launch an investigation into the case.
Kirk Waithe is taking issue with the fact that the settlement awarded to the victim in the sexual harassment claim against Darryl Smith, was paid with public funds. He also points out that the victim could never discuss the matter because she was forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement.