Sexual harassment is unwanted or unwelcomed behavior of a sexual nature that is offensive, humiliating, or intimidating; or that creates a hostile environment. This conduct can be verbal, physical or by gesticulation (offensive gestures). It may be subtle or direct; and can occur in-person/face –to-face, or electronically/online, in audio, digital images or written format. Anyone can experience sexual harassment, regardless of their gender, sex, social status, age or other personal characteristics.
The proposed Bill seeks to provide for the prevention of sexual harassment through a stand-alone piece of legislation. Stand-alone (unique) legislation means an entirely new law or number of laws created because existing legislation does not cover the full scope. This Bill, when it becomes an Act, will serve to aid victims and to ensure perpetrators are held accountable, as well as to generally address this societal problem.
The Bill’s aim is to help prevent instances of sexual harassment in a number of settings, as well as to introduce a process to make a sexual harassment complaint, and lastly to provide legal remedies and relief in such cases.
The Sexual Harassment Bill protects everyone living, visiting or working in the Cayman Islands.
Consequently it applies to employers, employees, volunteers, students, interns, clients, customers; members of qualifying bodies, associations, charitable/not-for-profit organizations; churches; individuals involved in the transaction of goods, services, facilities, real or personal property; landlords and tenants; and any third party to the aforementioned.
The Bill seeks to protect people by creating safe work spaces, anywhere services/goods are offered and received by segments of the public. This includes institutions (such as nursing homes, care homes, prison, medical facilities, schools and colleges); residential and business accommodations; facilities (such as any place providing financial services, recreation, entertainment, food, transport, care services, religious activities); among other places.
Although the Bill does not apply to “street” or “public” harassment, it prohibits a person offering a service and/or goods to members of the public from sexually harassing a customer or client.
The Bill is currently in the public consultation phase. Once it is finalised by the Cayman Islands Parliament and becomes legislation, an appropriate period to allow preparation by the affected entities will be allowed prior to its commencement date.
The Bill contains specific requirements for a variety of entities, including employers, to put in place policies and procedures that will deter and address sexual harassment within their establishments.
Where such conduct is not adequately addressed within the entity/workplace/location (as the case may be), the affected person will have the option to file a complaint externally through a specified process outlined by the legislation, within eighteen months from the date of the alleged act(s) of sexual harassment. The complaint will be investigated by the Department of Labour. Thereafter, the matter may be reported to and subject to a hearing by the Gender Equality Tribunal, which will have the power to make a case determination/decision and legally binding order. A decision of a court or a tribunal is often called a 'judgment', 'case', 'determination' or 'finding'.
The Bill has the following features:
Feedback will be used to improve and clarify concepts, procedures or provisions of the Bill.
The public consultation process seeks to ensure that there is a high level of awareness and understanding of the rationale and aim of the legislation amongst the general public and the entities which will be impacted.