Awareness on sexual harassment at the workplace is at an all time high.
The #MeToo movement has given many women the courage to share their traumatic experiences.
Kate Upton being one of the latest celebrities to step up and speak out.
— Eliana Dockterman (@edockterman) February 7, 2018
Even here in Malaysia, women are beginning to tell their stories, shedding light onto what is happening right under our noses.
You can read more of these stories here.
The Malaysian Federal Court has recently recognised sexual harassment as an actual tort.
It is now possible for victims of sexual harassment at the workplace to sue their harasser and claim for compensation.
This is all thanks to the landmark case of Mohd Ridzwan Abdul Razak v Asmah Hj Mohd Nor. The harasser actually sued the victim defamation because she complained about the harassment. So she decided to lodge a counterclaim against the harasser and made him pay for his misdeeds!
We wrote an extensive piece on this in 2016 : The Brand New Tort of Sexual Harassment: 5 Things We Learn
Employers have a serious obligation when it comes to dealing with complaints of sexual harassment.
Section 2 of the Employment Act 1955 defines sexual harassment as this:
“sexual harassment means any unwanted conduct of a sexual nature, whether verbal, non-verbal, visual, gestural or physical, directed at a person which is offensive or humiliating or is a threat to his well-being, arising out of and in the course of his employment.”
The Code Of Practice On The Prevention And Eradication Of Sexual Harassment In The Workplace (I know right? What a long name) further breaks this down:
“Any unwanted conduct of a sexual nature having the effect of verbal, non-verbal, visual, psychological or physical harassment:
– that might, on reasonable grounds, be perceived by the recipient as placing a condition of a sexual nature on her/his employment; or
– that might, on reasonable grounds, be perceived by the recipient as an offence or humiliation, or a threat to his/her well-being, but has no direct link to her/his employment”
It is absolutely compulsory for employers to investigate these complaints.
Otherwise, you WILL be fined.
Here’s what the Employment Act says :
“81F. Any employer who fails—
(a) to inquire into complaints of sexual harassment under subsection 81B(1);
(b) to inform the complainant of the refusal and the reasons for the refusal as required under subsection 81B(2);
(c) to inquire into complaints of sexual harassment when directed to do so by the Director General under paragraph 81B(5)(a) or subsection 81D(2); or
(d) to submit a report of inquiry into sexual harassment to the Director General under subsection 81D(2);
commits an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding ten thousand ringgit.”
And if the employer doesn’t deal with these complaints properly, the aggrieved employee would even be entitled to claim constructive dismissal!
Ie. the employee gets to “sue” the employer for not creating a safe working environment.
Don’t take our word for it. Come hear from an expert!
Our friends at CLJ is organizing a one-day workshop on “Effective Handling of Sexual Harassment At The Workplace”. This is happening on 27 February 2018 at Hotel Armada, Petaling Jaya.
Mr. P. Iruthayaraj D. Pappusamy, who has vast experience in employment law and human resource matters will be conducting this workshop.
They will be covering these topics in the workshop
- Definition, categories and forms of sexual harassment
- Consequences of sexual harassment to employers and employees
- Employers’ responsibilities and procedures of EXACTLY HOW to deal with sexual harassment complaints.
- How to properly and legally handle these complaints
Pretty comprehensive topics if you ask us.
Places are very limited!
This workshop is HRDF Claimable.
Please email the registration form and your bank-in slip to email@example.com and CC firstname.lastname@example.org