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Are You a Victim of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace? Here are Your Legal Remedies

Addressing workplace sexual harassment requires a collective effort from employees, employers and legal system

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Rakeshh Kumar SV

Published on June 14, 2024, 13:25:43

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sexual harassment in workplace

 

Sexual harassment is a violation of dignity, an abuse of power and intolerable. In recent years, workplace sexual harassment has become a growing concern globally, and the UAE is no exception.

With its diverse workforce and rapidly modernising corporate landscape, understanding the legal framework surrounding workplace sexual harassment in the UAE is crucial for both employees and employers.

Legal Framework and Protections

The UAE has taken significant steps to address workplace sexual harassment through its legal system. Federal Law No. 3 of 1987 (the UAE Penal Code) and Federal Decree-Law No. 33 of 2021 on the Regulation of Labour Relations (the New Labour Law), effective as of 2nd February 2022, provide the foundation for addressing such issues.

Key Legal Provisions

UAE Penal Code: The Penal Code criminalises acts of sexual harassment and imposes severe penalties on offenders, including imprisonment and fines.

New Labour Law: This law explicitly prohibits workplace harassment and outlines the rights and protections for employees. It mandates employers to maintain a safe and respectful working environment and stipulates penalties for non-compliance.

Legal Questions and Remedies

To provide clarity on the legal remedies available for victims of workplace sexual harassment, TLR spoke with legal experts about the questions most commonly asked by victims.

Q1: What constitutes sexual harassment under UAE law?

A1: Sexual harassment is broadly defined under UAE law to include any unwelcome behaviour of a sexual nature that creates a hostile, intimidating, or offensive work environment. This can include physical acts, verbal comments, or non-verbal actions such as inappropriate gestures or displays of explicit materials.

Q2:What should I do if I experience sexual harassment at work?

A2: If you experience sexual harassment, it is important to:
• Document the incidents meticulously, including dates, times and details of the harassment.
• Report the harassment to your employer, HR department, or a trusted manager. The New Labour Law requires employers to take such complaints seriously and act promptly.
• Seek legal advice to understand your rights and the steps to take. Contacting a lawyer early can help guide you through the process and ensure your case is handled properly.

Q3: Can I report sexual harassment anonymously?

A3: While some companies may offer anonymous reporting options, UAE law generally requires a formal complaint to initiate legal proceedings. Employers are encouraged to create safe reporting mechanisms that protect the identity of complainants to the extent possible.

Q4:What are my legal rights if I am a victim of workplace sexual harassment?

A4: As a victim, you have the right to:
• A harassment-free workplace.
• Report the harassment without fear of retaliation.
• Seek compensation for damages suffered due to the harassment.
• Terminate your employment if the harassment persists and your employer fails to address the situation adequately.

Q5:What remedies are available through the UAE legal system?

A5: Victims can seek several remedies, including:
• Filing a Complaint with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE): This initiates an investigation into the complaint.
• Civil Lawsuit for Compensation: Victims can pursue a civil case to seek monetary compensation for emotional distress and other damages.
• Criminal Proceedings: If the harassment constitutes a criminal act, victims can file a police report, leading to potential criminal charges against the harasser.

Q6:Can I be terminated for reporting sexual harassment?

A6: The New Labour Law explicitly prohibits retaliation against employees for reporting harassment. If an employer terminates an employee for such reasons, the termination could be deemed unfair or unlawful, potentially leading to legal consequences for the employer.

Q7:How can employers prevent workplace sexual harassment?

A7: Employers are encouraged to:
• Develop and enforce comprehensive anti-harassment policies.
• Provide regular training on recognising and preventing harassment.
• Establish clear procedures for reporting and addressing complaints.
• Foster a culture of respect and inclusion in the workplace.

Moving Forward

Addressing workplace sexual harassment requires a collective effort from employees, employers and the legal system. The UAE's evolving legal framework aims to create a safer and more respectful work environment for everyone.

By understanding their rights and the legal remedies available, victims can take decisive action to protect themselves and seek justice.

For any enquiries or information, contact ask@tlr.ae or call us on +971 52 644 3004Follow The Law Reporters on WhatsApp Channels.

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