It happens almost to everyone. A rough suggestion, an out of place comment, a humiliating reference or forced contacts. When it happens in the workplace, distress is far more severe. Alongside the harm caused by the harassment itself, there is the further harm arising from the potential loss of the work place, and even harm to the reputation of the victim and to the prospects of her/him being accepted to other work places. The pressure is so severe that it is sometimes difficult and impossible to avoid the situation, which creates guilt feelings with male and female employees, who ostensibly “agreed” to the unacceptable treatment or proposals. What is there to be done?
The Prevention of Sexual Harassment Act is designated to protect an employee who is offended by way of sexual harassment – both during the period of employment and retroactively – by determining a high standard of compensation, by alleviating the burden of proof in court, and by protecting the privacy of the plaintiff through confidentiality. In addition, relevant regulations impose on the employer a series of general obligations (such as setting the regulations in a visible place at the work place and setting up a body for filing complaints). If the employer fails to meet his obligations, even without regard to the specific case, he is liable to pay compensation to the employee.
Knowledge is power, and understanding the law and the possibilities of action can save you from the distress and fear caused by the harassment. We recommend that you consult with a lawyer as “first aid” even before taking any action, in order to minimize the risks and ensure that the offender, not the victim, shall pay the price of their criminal behavior. We further advise employers who are interested in protecting themselves from that kind of claims, to receive guidance on their duties – and the sooner the better.