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General News of Saturday, 18 February 2006

Source: Ghanaian Times

Morgue attendant sacked for making sexual comment

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An accusation of sexual harassment in the workplace has resulted in the dismissal of a mortuary attendant of the Sunyani General Hospital.

He allegedly told a female medical doctor that she has big buttocks.

He has petitioned the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to intervene in the matter and compel the hospital to pay all his entitlements and other benefits as a casual morgue attendant for the two years that worked there.

Forty-five-year-old Theophilus Kuma was said to have made similar comments to other female staff without having any problems.

But on January 9, this year, Kuma was issued with a letter terminating his appointment for harassing the female doctor, followed by outright dismissal on January 23.

His dismissal letter was signed by the Principal Health Service Administrator, Mr Thomas Tawiah.

Kuma?s letter of termination said in part: "Management regrets to inform you that your appointment as morgue attendant has been terminated with subsequent forfeiture of all your entitlement with exception of your social security contributions in view of the fact that you sexually harassed a medical officer - Dr Mrs Mary Oblitey on the night of 24th December, 2005.

?Management condemns this behaviour and sanctions you in line with the Ghana Health Service Code of Ethics and Disciplinary offences,? the letter added.

Kuma has denied the charge made by the medical officer. He said he teasing a female ward assistant, on the night of December 24, 2005 telling her that she has ?big buttocks,? something I have been telling her often.

?However, the doctor was passing by and when she heard the comments; she confronted me for insulting her. I tried to explain that it was not directed at her.?

Kuma said that the matter was reported to the management, which summoned him for questioning and he explained what actually happened that day.

He said it was therefore, a surprise to him when he received the dismissal letter.

Chief Director of the Ministry of Women and Children?s Affairs, Kodwo Amoakwa explained that a person is considered sexually harassed if persistent attempts are made at wooing her/him.

This may be in the form of comments made to the person, which the person frowns on, or phone calls, mails, gestures or text messages.

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