Question: Can you specify what constitutes ‘harassment’ at the workplace? Is yelling at co-workers considered harassment? What can I do if I want to report it?
Answer: Pursuant to your queries, it is assumed that you are employed by a mainland company located in the UAE. Therefore, the provisions of Federal Decree Law No. 33 of 2021 on the Regulation of Employment Relations and Cabinet Resolution No. 1 of 2022 on the Implementation of Federal Decree Law No. 33 of 2021 regarding the Regulations of Employment Relations are applicable.
In the UAE, it is the responsibility of an employer to provide a safe and appropriate working environment to an employee. This is in accordance with Article 13(13) of the Employment Law, which states, “The Employer shall provide a safe and appropriate working environment.”
It is prohibited to verbally abuse any individual in the workplace or during the course of employment. This is in accordance with Article 14 (2) of the Employment Law, which states, “It shall be prohibited to exercise sexual harassment, bullying or any verbal, physical or mental violence against the employee by his employer, manager or colleagues.”
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Further, an employer may conduct an internal investigation if there has been verbal abuse between the employees or if there is a complaint by an employee related to the same. If verbal abuse is determined during an investigation, then an employer should initiate and impose disciplinary sanctions on such employee as mentioned in Article 39 of the Employment Law read with Article 24 of Cabinet Resolution No. 1 of 2022. The disciplinary sanctions on an employee may include written notice (warning), suspension from work, denial of increment, deduction of salary and termination of employment.
An employer may terminate an employee without notice who has indulged in verbal abuses with other employees upon written investigation. This is in accordance with Article 44 (7) of the Employment Law, which states, “An employer may dismiss the employee without prior notice, after a written investigation with him and dismissal decision shall be in writing and reasoned, and given by the employer, or his representative, to the employee if the employee commits a verbal, physical or other form of assault punishable by legislation in force in the UAE against the employer, the responsible manager, his supervisor or colleague.”
Based on the aforementioned provisions of law, if your co-worker verbally abuses you or yells at you, you may consider filing a complaint with your employer and request the employer to initiate disciplinary action against such co-worker.
However, if your employer verbally abuses or yells at you, then you may consider filing a complaint against your employer with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation and thereafter may consider resigning from your employment without serving notice to your employer. This is in accordance with Article 45(2) of the Employment Law, which states, “The employer may quit work without notice and reserve all his entitlements at the end of the service if the employee is subject to assault, violence or harassment at the workplace by the employer, or his legal representative, provided that the employee reports such act to the concerned authorities and the Ministry within (5) five working days from the date on which he is able to report.”
Ashish Mehta is the founder and Managing Partner of Ashish Mehta & Associates. He is qualified to practise law in Dubai, the United Kingdom and India. Full details of his firm on: www.amalawyers.com. Readers may e-mail their questions to: [email protected] or send them to Legal View, Khaleej Times, PO Box 11243, Dubai.