1 BELIZE PROTECTION AGAINST SEXUAL HARASSMENT ACT CHAPTER 107 REVISED EDITION 2000 SHOWING THE LAW AS AT 31ST DECEMBER, 2000 This is a revised edition of the law, prepared by the Law Revision Commissioner under the authority of the Law Revision Act, Chapter 3 of the Laws of Belize, Revised Edition This edition contains a consolidation of the following laws- Page ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS 3 PROTECTION AGAINST SEXUAL HARASSMENT ACT 5 Amendments in force as at 31st December, 2000.
2 BELIZE PROTECTION AGAINST SEXUAL HARASSMENT ACT CHAPTER 107 REVISED EDITION 2000 SHOWING THE LAW AS AT 31ST DECEMBER, 2000 This is a revised edition of the law, prepared by the Law Revision Commissioner under the authority of the Law Revision Act, Chapter 3 of the Laws of Belize, Revised Edition This edition contains a consolidation of the following laws- Page ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS 3 PROTECTION AGAINST SEXUAL HARASSMENT ACT 5 Amendments in force as at 31st December, 2000.
3 Protection Against Sexual Harassment [CAP CHAPTER 107 PROTECTION AGAINST SEXUAL HARASSMENT ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS PART I Preliminary 1. Short title. 2. Interpretation. PART II Forms of Sexual Harassment 3. Sexual harassment in employment. 4. Liability of employer for sexual harassment. 5. Liability of employer where opportunities granted for sexual favours. 6. Prohibition on acts adversely affecting employment. 7. Sexual harassment at institutions. 8. Duty to keep institution free from sexual harassment. 9. Sexual harassment in relation to accommodation.
4 4 CAP. 107] Protection Against Sexual Harassment PART III Hearing of Complaints 10. Application to Court. 11. Enquiries by Court. 12. Evidence. 13. Power of Court to obtain information and documents. 14. Attendance at inquiry. 15. Right to representation at inquiry. 16. Determination by Court. 17. Inquiry may be held in camera. 18. Court may prohibit publication of evidence, etc. PART IV Offences and Penalties 19. Offences in relation to inquiry. 20. Offence of victimization. 21. Penalty for making false complaints.
5 Protection Against Sexual Harassment [CAP PART V Miscellaneous 22. Particulars of complaint not to be communicated, etc. 23. Restriction on publication of reports of proceedings. 24. Regulations. 25. Commencement. CHAPTER 107 PROTECTION AGAINST SEXUAL HARASSMENT [12th August, 1996] 10 of Commencement [ ] S.I. 127 of PART I Preliminary 1. This Act may be cited as the Protection Against Sexual Harassment Act. 2.-(1) In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires:- Short title. Interpretation. accommodation includes residential and business accommodation; complainant in relation to a complaint, means the person by whom or on
6 6 CAP. 107] Protection Against Sexual Harassment whose behalf that complaint is lodged; complaint means a grievance lodged under section 10 or a matter referred to the Court for inquiry as a complaint pursuant to section 11; Court means a court of summary jurisdiction in the judicial district where the complaint arises; employee includes apprentices, persons on probation, full and part-time employees and commission agents; employer includes the Government of Belize, statutory authorities, quasigovemment bodies and any other employer; employment includes part-time and temporary employment and work under a contract of services; fellow worker in relation to an employee, means another person who is employed by the employer of that first-mentioned employee; functions includes powers, duties, obligations and rights; institution includes schools, colleges, universities, other places of learning or training, prisons, places of custody for minors and the elderly, and medical and mental institutions; Minister means the Minister for the time being responsible for Human Resources; respondent in relation to a complaint, means the person who is alleged to have done the act to which the complaint relates; supervisor in relation to a person, means a fellow worker who by virtue of his employment is in a position of authority over that first-mentioned person;
7 Protection Against Sexual Harassment [CAP unwelcome sexual advances means conduct of a sexual nature which is unwelcome, undesirable or offensive to the person to whom that conduct is directed. (2) Any reference in this Act to conduct of a sexual nature in relation to a person includes a reference to the making, to or in the presence of, a person, of a statement of a sexual nature concerning that person, whether the statement is made orally or in writing. PART II Forms of Sexual Harassment 3.-(1) No employer or supervisor of an employee shall harass sexually an employee so as to make it appear to the employee that the prospects or working conditions of that employee are contingent upon the employee s acceptance of sexual advances or toleration of the sexual advances from the employer or supervisor. Sexual harassment in employment. (2) A prospective employer shall not harass sexually a person so as to make it appear to that person that - (a) an offer of employment to that person; or (b) the terms on which employment is offered, is or are contingent on that person s acceptance of sexual advances or toleration of the sexual suggestions or innuendos from the prospective employer. (3) An employer or employee shall not harass sexually a fellow worker. (4) For the purpose of this section, a person shall be taken to harass sexually another person if the first-mentioned person makes an unwelcome
8 8 CAP. 107] Protection Against Sexual Harassment sexual advance, or an unwelcome request for sexual favours, to the other person, or engages in other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature to the other person, and- (a) the other person suffers any form of disadvantage in connection with that other person s employment or work or possible employment or possible work; or (b) the unwelcome request for sexual favours has the effect of interfering unreasonably with the other person s work performance or when it creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment. (5) In order to determine whether the alleged conduct constitutes sexual harassment in employment, all of the circumstances surrounding the facts that occurred shall be taken into consideration. The determination of the legality of an action shall be based on the findings of each particular case. Liability of employer for sexual harassment. Liability of employer where opportunities granted for sexual favours. 4. An employer shall take immediate and appropriate action to correct any act of sexual harassment towards employees in the work place, where the employer, his agents or his supervisors know or are informed of such conduct, and if the employer fails to take immediate and appropriate action to correct the situation, he shall be held responsible therefor, and the aggrieved person may lodge a complaint against him under section Where an employer grants employment opportunities or benefits as a result of a person s submission to sexual harassment and demands of the employer or his agents or his supervisors, the employer shall be held liable for sexual harassment in employment with regard to any other person who was denied such opportunity or benefit because of the refusal of that person to submit to sexual harassment: Provided that the employer shall be liable for the acts of his agents or supervisors only if he knew or was informed of such acts.
9 Protection Against Sexual Harassment [CAP No employer shall carry out any action which adversely affects the opportunities, terms and working conditions of an employee who has rejected the employer s practices that are in conflict with the provisions of this Act, or who has instituted proceedings, has given testimony, collaborated or participated in any investigation, procedure or hearing initiated under this Act. 7. No person who is a member of staff or in a position of authority at an institution shall harass sexually a person who is a student or an inmate or ward at that institution or is seeking admission to that institution as a student, ward or inmate. 8.-(1) It shall be the duty of every person in charge of an institution to keep that institution free from sexual harassment and intimidation and to clearly express a policy against sexual harassment to staff, students, inmates or wards of that institution. 9 Prohibition on acts adversely affecting employment. Sexual harassment at institutions. Duty to keep institution free from sexual harassment. (2) For the purpose of this section, sexual harassment constitutes unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature including, but not limited to, the deliberate making of unsolicited gestures or comments, unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favours or the deliberate display of offensive sexually graphic material which is not necessary for institutional purposes. 9. No person shall make it reasonably appear to another person that - (a) the terms on which the first-mentioned person offers the other person accommodation; Sexual harassment in relation to accomodation. (b) the first-mentioned person s acceptance of the other person s application for accommodation; (c) the time of processing of the other person s application for accommodation, or the order of precedence of the other person on any list of applicants for that accommodation;
10 10 CAP. 107] Protection Against Sexual Harassment (d) the other person s access or the extent of such access to any benefit connected with the accommodation; or (e) the failure to evict the other person or to subject that other person to any other determination in relation to the accommodation; is or are contingent on that other person s acceptance of sexual advances or toleration of sexual suggestions or innuendos from the first-mentioned person. PART III Hearing of Complaints Application to Court. Inquiries by Court. 10. Any person who considers that he is or has been sexually harassed may apply to the Court in writing alleging that he has been sexually harassed within the meaning of section 3, 4, 7 or (1) Where a complaint relating to an alleged unlawful act is lodged pursuant to section 10 above, the Court may, subject to subsection (2) below, carry out investigations in relation to the act and endeavour by conciliation, to effect a settlement of the matter to which the act relates. (2) The Court may, for the purposes of investigation, obtain information from any person and make such inquiries as it thinks fit. (3) The Court - (a) may endeavour by such means as it considers reasonable to resolve a complaint which is the subject of an inquiry; or (b) shall take all steps as it considers reasonable to effect an amicable settlement of a complaint and for this purpose may adjourn an inquiry at any stage to enable the parties to
11 Protection Against Sexual Harassment [CAP negotiate with a view to settlement by amicable arrangements. 12.-(1) The Court may take evidence on oath, affirmation or affidavit and for that purpose the Court may administer an oath or affirmation. Evidence. (2) The Court may decide not to carry out any investigations or, as the case may be, may decide to discontinue any investigations where - (a) the Court reasonably believes that the complainant does not wish that the inquiry be made or continued; (b) a period of more than twelve months has elapsed since the doing of the act and the complaint was not lodged before the expiration of a period of twelve months since the doing of the act; or (c) the Court is of the opinion that the complaint is frivolous, vexatious, misconceived or lacking in substance. (3) Where the Court decides not to carry out or decides to discontinue any investigations in relation to a complaint, it shall give notice in writing to the complainant of that decision and of the reasons therefor within two weeks of making that decision (1) Where - (a) any investigations are being conducted by the Court pursuant to section 11; and Power of Court to obtain information and documents. (b) the Court has reason to believe that a person is capable of furnishing information (in this section referred to as relevant documents ), relevant to such investigations, the Court may,by notice in writing served on that person, require the person, at
12 12 CAP. 107] Protection Against Sexual Harassment such place and within such time as are specified in the notice, (c) to furnish to the Court, by writing signed by the person, such relevant information as is specified in the notice; or (d) to produce to the Court such relevant documents as are specified in the notice. (2) Where documents are produced to the Court in accordance with a requirement under subsection (1), the Court - (a) may take possession of, and make copies of, or take extracts from, the documents; (b) may retain possession of the documents for such period as is necessary for the purposes of the inquiry to which the documents relate; and (c) during that period, shall permit a person who would be entitled to inspect any one or more of the documents if they were not in the possession of the Court, to inspect at all reasonable times such documents as that person would be entitled to inspect. Attendance at inquiry. 14.-(1) The Court may, for the purpose of any inquiry, by notice in writing, direct the person referred to in subsection (2) below, to attend at a time and place specified in the notice for the purposes of the inquiry. (2) Directions under subsection (1) above shall be given to - (a) the complainant; (b) the respondent; and (c) any other person who, in the opinion of the Court, is likely to
13 Protection Against Sexual Harassment [CAP be able to provide information relevant to the inquiry or whose presence is, in the opinion of the Court, likely to beconducive to the settlement of the matter to which the act relates. (3) The Court may, in a notice under subsection (1), require the person notified to produce documents as are specified in the notice. (4) The Court shall give each party to an inquiry a reasonable opportunity to call witnesses or give evidence, examine and cross-examine witnesses and make submissions to the Court. 15. A party to an inquiry may be represented by an attorney-at-law or other person and the Court shall have power to order a party to pay the attorney fees of the other party, where the Court believes that it is just and fair to do so. 16.-(1) After holding an inquiry the Court may - (a) dismiss the complaint; or Right to representation at inquiry. Determination by Court. (b) find in favour of the complainant and make any one or more of the orders set out in subsection (2) below. (2) For the purpose of subsection (1) above, the Court may make any one or more of the following orders: (a) that the respondent has engaged in conduct amounting to sexual harassment and should not repeat or continue such conduct; (b) that the respondent should perform any reasonable act or course of conduct to redress any loss or damage suffered by the complainant;
14 14 CAP. 107] Protection Against Sexual Harassment (c) that an order be made to bind-over the respondent for a period of time, and any repetition of the conduct during his bindingover period shall constitute contempt of the court; (d) that the respondent desist in continuing the act in question; (e) that the respondent should pay to the complainant, damages by way of compensation for any loss or damage suffered by reason of the conduct of the respondent; (f) where the complaint relates to sexual harassment by a fellow worker, that the employer concerned should take appropriate action to ensure that the harassment ceases and to report thereon to the Court; (g) that it would be inappropriate for any further action to be taken in the matter; or (h) make such order or declaration as may be appropriate in relation to the complaint. (2) The Court may, in the making of a determination under subsection (2) (a) or (2) (f) and (g), also take into consideration injury to the complainant s feelings or humiliation suffered by the complainant. (3) Where the Court makes a determination by way of a declaration for the payment of compensation to a complainant, the sum so payable may be recovered by the complainant in a court of competent jurisdiction as a civil debt. (4) Any respondent who fails to comply with a determination for payment of compensation shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished in like manner as if he were found guilty of contempt of Court.
15 Protection Against Sexual Harassment [CAP Subject to section 18 below, an inquiry shall be held in camera unless the Court otherwise directs. 18. The Court may direct that - (a) any evidence given before it; (b) the contents of any document produced to it; or 15 Inquiry may be held in camera. Court may prohibit publication of evidence, etc. (c) any information that might enable a person who has appeared before the Court to be identified, shall not be published or shall be published only in such manner, and to such person, as the Court may specify. PART IV Offences and Penalties 19.-(1) Any person directed, pursuant to section 13(l), to attend an inquiry and who fails without reasonable excuse to do so, commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding two hundred dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one month, or to both such fine and term of imprisonment. Offences in relation to inquiry. (2) Any person who, without reasonable excuse, fails or refuses to furnish information or produce documents pursuant to a requirement under section 13 or 14 commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding two hundred dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one month, or to both such fine and term of imprisonment. (3) Any person appearing before the Court as witness at an inquiry who- (a) refuses or fails to be sworn or to make an affirmation; or
16 16 CAP. 107] Protection Against Sexual Harassment (b) refuses or fails to answer any question required to be answered by the Court, commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding two hundred dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one month, or to both such fine and term of imprisonment. (4) Any person who- (a) interrupts the proceedings at any inquiry; or (b) uses insulting language towards the Court when the Court is exercising any powers or performing any functions under this Act; or (c) publishes anything in contravention of section 18; or (d) furnishes to the Court any information or makes a statement at an inquiry knowing that the information or statement is false or misleading in a material particular; or (e) does any other act or thing that would constitute a contempt of the Court, commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or to both such fine and term of imprisonment. Offence of victimization. 20.-(1) Any person who commits an act of victimization against another person commits an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months, or to both such fine and term of imprisonment. (2) For the purpose of subsection (1), a person shall be taken to
17 Protection Against Sexual Harassment [CAP commit an act of victimization against another person where the first-mentioned person subjects, or threatens to subject, the other person to any detriment - (a) on the ground that the other person- (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) (v) has made, or proposes to make, a complaint under this Act; has brought, or proposes to bring, proceedings under this Act against any person; has furnished, or proposes to furnish, any information, or has produced, or proposes to produce, any documents to a person exercising or performing any power or function under this Act; has attended, or proposes to attend, an inquiry under this Act or to appear thereat as a witness; has made an allegation that a person has done an act that is unlawful by virtue of section 3, 4, 7 or 9; or (b) on the ground that the first-mentioned person believes that the other person has done, or proposes to do, an act or thing referred to in any one of subparagraphs (i) to (v) of paragraph (a) above. 21. Any person who makes any false, vexatious or frivolous complaint against another person for an alleged contravention of any provision of this Act shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or to both such fine and imprisonment. Penalty for making false complaints.
18 18 CAP. 107] Protection Against Sexual Harassment PART V Miscellaneous Particulars of complaint not to be communicated. 22.-(1) Where a complaint has been lodged under section 10, no officer of the Court or any other person, having any official duty or being employed in the administration of this Act shall, unless the Court permits, divulge or communicate to any other person, any particulars of that complaint until- (a) the Court has commenced an inquiry; or (b) where the Court decides not to hold an inquiry, or where it discontinues an inquiry under section 12 (2). (2) Nothing in subsection (1) shall prevent disclosure of the particulars of a complaint where such disclosure is required for the purpose of section 20. Restriction on publication of reports of proceedings held in camera. 23.-(1) No person shall publish any report of proceedings under this Act held in camera. (2) Every person who contravenes subsection (1) commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or to both such fine and term of imprisonment. (3) Nothing in this section limits- (a) the provisions of any other enactment relating to the prohibition or regulation of the publication of reports or particulars relating to judicial proceedings; or (b) the power of any summary jurisdiction court to punish any contempt to the Court.
19 Protection Against Sexual Harassment [CAP The Minister may make Regulations for the better carrying out of the provisions of this Act. 25. This Act shall come into force on a day to be appointed by the Minister, by Order published in the Gazette. 19 Regulations. Commencement.
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