The High Court has ruled against Mota Engil Construction Company in a case where Tamara Kabowa sued the company K100 million for damages following sexual abuse by her immediate boss, a Portuguese identified as Joachim Carvallio.
Mota Engil claimed Kabowa was not sexually harassed by their male employee as such the company was not liable for anything and further argued that she was not physically injured to warrant compensation.
But Judge Mike Tembo in his determination ruled that Mota Engil failed to protect the female employee from the sexual harassment, failed to create a work environment free from sexual harassment and safe for female employees, and was also negligent by not stopping the sexual harassment she was going through after she reported the matter several times.
Justice Tembo has ordered Mota Engil to compensate Kabowa with aggravated (serious and high) damages for the emotional, psychological and mental anguish she went through as a result of the sexual abuse and harassment.
However, a psychologist and psychiatrist will give expert evidence to guide the court on the right amount of compensation for the injury Kabowa suffered.
Lawyer Kuleza Phokoso who represented Kabowa confirmed about the ruling, saying he was delighted “justice has been served.”
Meanwhile, human rights advocate Elita Mwandira Mwale described the judgement as a “landmark ruling” saying it will stop sexual harassment, especially among women in the workplace.
She pointed out that with the court ruling, employers can be held liable to compensate female workers for sexual abuse or harassment perpetrated by their male counterparts while on duty.
Further, female employees do not have to necessarily suffer physical injury to sue for sexual harassment because emotional, mental and psychological injury is more serious and would be compensated if the act occurs.