What should you do if you’re sexually harassed in the workplace? An expert weighs in

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Woman feeling uncomfortable after a coworker touches her.
Woman feeling uncomfortable after a coworker touches her.
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She spoke out and within days, the man who had been sexually harassing her on set was fired.

This is a victory many are attributing to actress Lorraine Moropa’s bravery for speaking out.

The star was allegedly harassed by a senior actor on the set of popular drama series Lithapo.

The 23-year-old took to Instagram to detail how the actor undresses her with his eyes, grabs his genitals on set while looking at her bum and sometimes grabs her bum then laughs this off in the presence of colleagues.

READ MORE | Lithapo actress Lorraine Moropa bravely speaks out about being sexually harassed on set

Responding to calls from the public, including performers in the industry, the production company in charge Lithapo, Quizzical Pictures, released a statement affirming its zero tolerance against acts of sexual abuse.

“We take this issue extremely seriously. We subscribe to the Swift and IPO code of conduct. All the cast and crew sign declarations against sexual harassment as part of their contract,” they said in a statement.

The company later fired the actor who allegedly harassed Lorraine.

Another actress, Altovise Lawrence, also accused the same actor of sexual harassment on the same set.

No criminal charges have yet been laid against the actor, who has been named on social media.

Mikateko Mafuyeka, an admitted attorney and a law lecturer, believes companies having policies on issues like sexual harassment is key.

“For an industry like this that is often hard to police for various reasons, companies also need to develop clear procedures to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace,” she says.

If Lorraine were to lay charges with the police, Mafuyeka says the process would be identical to any other criminal process.

“If she wants to, the victim has the option to lay criminal charges. However, it will not be an open and shut case. It’s her word against his. The burden of proof, which lies with the state, is higher with criminal cases than with civil cases as it should be beyond reasonable doubt and not on a balance of probabilities,” she says.

But there’s another way for Lorraine to seek recourse – a civil suit against the individual for her pain and suffering.

“In court, it’ll be about the balance of probabilities and not necessarily beyond reasonable doubt. Here she would be suing the individual for non-patrimonial damages for the pain caused to her during the harassment. If successful, the court will decide on the quantum – which is the amount to compensate her for the pain, suffering and emotional distress she went through during the harassment by the individual,” she says.

On Thursday, Quizzical Pictures confirmed that the actor in question had been released from his contract.

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