Harassment, intimidation, victimization.

It often happens that when an employer wishes to “get rid of” and employee, he adopts tactics that create extremely unpleasant or unacceptable working conditions, in hopes that the employee will resign. It also happens sometimes when an employee has already resigned, and the employer is extremely annoyed because “the employee is ungrateful”, or the employee “has left me in the lurch”, and the employer is determined to exact revenge on the employee before they actually leave.

This may take many different forms – it could involve spreading malicious rumours about the employee or insulting them or degrading them, overloading them with work, continually picking on them, swearing at the employee, using foul and vulgar or abusive language towards the employee, and so on.

Whatever the case, it is unacceptable, and is a violation of the human rights of the employee and a violation of the employee’s right to be treated with dignity and respect. In fact, employers have a duty to protect their employees from harassment as opposed to subjecting employees to harassment.

The employee should keep a note of all incidents, noting the date and time, what the nature of the incident was, and the names of any witnesses. The harasser should then be confronted, and a formal demand written made to the harasser that he immediately ceases the unacceptable behaviour. The employee can state that should the harasser not cease the harassment, the employee will refer the matter to the CCMA for conciliation, and if that fails, the matter will proceed to the Labour Court.

Such correspondence will usually resolve the issue because the harasser knows that he is out of line, and that his actions are unacceptable.