Malaysia Laws on Workplace Harassment

November 16, 2022

Malaysia Laws on Workplace Harassment


After the police updated his case so that it required “no further action,”[60] Ain Husnitsa was served with a defamation complaint by the teacher seeking damages of RM1 million. [61] Civil society members of the Joint Gender Action Group (JAGE) condemned the legal efforts, saying that “defamation suits are another weapon used by perpetrators to force victims to submit” and that victims are vulnerable not only to “further trauma, but also to increased harassment and unnecessary scrutiny.” [62] While minors can be prosecuted under Malaysian law,[63] JAGE says this will set a “dangerous precedent.” [62] Police are currently investigating the minor under article 504 of the Penal Code for insult with intent to cause public peace. [63] There are significant negative effects on the victim and others in their periphery. The effects are either immediately visible or they can manifest themselves over a longer period of time. [52] The negative effects of harassment can be felt by both the victim and secondary victims (family members, friends or colleagues of the victim). [45] There are also organizational repercussions that have a negative impact on the business or institution if it is unwilling or unable to deal with sexual harassment cases in a manner that is fair and respectful to both parties. [1] Secondary victims are individuals who are indirectly affected when acting in response to the victim of sexual harassment. They may be family members, partners, friends and children, and their own reaction to the victim`s experience could help or hinder the victim`s recovery. This becomes an additional impact on the victim when confronted with supportive behaviour from family members. In cases where victims have been pressured to remain silent or withdraw accusations in order to preserve the family`s reputation, stress and antagonism could lead to a breakdown of the family relationship.

[45] Despite the changes, many issues related to sexual harassment have not been resolved by the amendment. Some of the deficiencies are listed below: a) If the person against whom the sexual harassment complaint is filed is an employee, take disciplinary action, which may include: Sexual harassment can be traumatic and affect the victim`s well-being. Deteriorating physical, emotional and mental health (anxiety, depression, tension, guilt) may require medical care and treatment, resulting in additional costs. If the victim`s stress increases, productivity could also be affected by the victim`s reduced job satisfaction. [53] If the person fears reprisal because he or she has spoken out, he or she often only has the option of leaving the company, which then hinders his or her professional development. [1] Sexual harassment has become a barrier preventing women from effectively climbing the corporate and social ladder. [51] It is not too late to extend the current sexual harassment law to other types of harassment. A special committee may be established to analyse the matter in more detail. A comparative study with other countries such as New Zealand and the United Kingdom can also be conducted to assess their effectiveness. According to a 2017 survey on sexual harassment in the workplace conducted by Speak Up, most victims of unwanted sexual behavior do not report their case due to the ambiguous or worse lack of guidelines for dealing with sexual harassment cases in their organizations.

As a result, survivors become confused about the procedures for reporting such cases. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the human resources department is not trained to deal with cases of sexual harassment and therefore feels entitled to ignore complaints altogether. The elements of the unlawful act of sexual harassment are as follows:[50] According to the Hofstede Power Distance Index – an index designed to measure the distribution of power among individuals in a company, culture or nation – Malaysia scored the highest, outperforming countries around the world. This means that Malaysia has the largest power gap between workers and employers, resulting in a high level of submission in the workplace. Media coverage and campaigns by various women`s groups had shown that women needed more protection in the workplace than they were given, which had prompted the Ministry of Human Resources to act. [34] An important milestone was reached when the Ministry of Public Health announced its intention to develop and publish a code to prevent and eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace. AWAM and the MTUC Women`s Section were invited to be part of the Technical Committee responsible for drafting the Code. [30] The All Women`s Action Society (AWAM) reported receiving 162 complaints of sexual harassment in 2020, a 218% increase from 51 cases from 2017 to 2019. In Mohd Ridzwan Abdul Razak v. Asmah Hj Mohd Nor [2016] 4 MLJ 282, Asmah was examined four times by a psychiatrist and diagnosed with severe depression caused by the harassment and she also had physical symptoms of migraines and leg pain. Although she was transferred to another unit and no longer works under the perpetrator, she could no longer bear the emotional stress to the point of having to leave the organization and move to another state. [46] (b).

81A of the Employment (Amendment) Act 2012 in Malaysia states that complaints of sexual harassment are defined broadly to include complaints of: In the event that the person against whom the complaint of sexual harassment is made is a person other than an employee, the employer shall recommend that the person be brought before a competent disciplinary authority to which he or she is subject. After receiving death and rape threats online, three representatives of Pakatan Harapan (Jamaliah Jamaluddin, Lim Yi Wei, Member of Parliament for Kampung Tunku and Maria Chin Abdullah, Member of Parliament for Petaling Jaya) called on the government not to ignore online sexual harassment and to take immediate action against these threats. They also stressed the urgent need for comprehensive legislation on sexual harassment, as there is currently no specific policy on sexual harassment in the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998. However, there are provisions to combat common threats, as well as abusive and offensive language and behaviour on the Internet. The PDRM confirmed that the case would be investigated under Section 507 of the Penal Code (anonymous criminal intimidation) and Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia (Disclosure of Offensive and Threatening Content) Act 1998. [55] A landmark case in 1996 changed the tone of public discourse when the Labour Court issued the first arbitration award directly related to sexual harassment. Labour Court Award No. 606 of 1996: Jennico Associates and Lilian de Costa received immense media attention at the time. A hotel manager quit her job and asked for a constructive dismissal on the grounds that the CEO, her immediate supervisor, had kissed her twice and tried to pet her. She claimed that when she did not respond to his advances, he continued to harass her by finding flaws in his work. The Labour Court concluded that; Although the employee resigned, she was in fact compelled to do so by the conduct of her employer, although this decision was later overturned by the High Court.[33] [34] The decisions show that the Court takes a broad approach to determining whether the applicant`s actions amount to sexual harassment. We also note that the courts pay particular attention to the complainant`s response to sexual harassment.

While the plaintiff`s actions may be considered accidental or “friendly,” the court considers the complainant`s discomfort and discomfort with the impugned conduct. In comparison, India`s Sexual Harassment of Women in the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Remedy) Act 2013 (“POSH Act”) provides a comprehensive definition of sexual harassment. According to the POSH Act, “sexual harassment” includes unwanted conduct with a sexual connotation, whether direct or implied, such as: “Any unwanted conduct of a sexual nature that results in verbal, non-verbal, visual, psychological or physical harassment; More recently, Yihwen Chen, a journalist, made a meditative short film, The Boys Club, about her experiences of sexual harassment while filming a documentary – an indirect theme of the documentary – and how she didn`t feel supported by her bosses when she talked about it. Eventually, she felt compelled to leave. The bill is important and timely to end the normalization of sexual harassment in Malaysia. According to the Minister of Women, Family and Community Development, Datuk Seri Rina Mohd Harun (pix), this is the first step for us to protect victims of sexual harassment. 1. Relief Society survey of 6.11.2020 wao.org.my/womens-experiences-and-perceptions-of-sexual-harassment-demonstrate-the-urgent-need-for-a-sexual-harassment-act/ reports of sexual harassment are not uncommon in Malaysia, but despite the existence of various legal mechanisms, many women say effective legal protection is still lacking.

Some cases of sexual harassment, such as physical harassment, may also be a criminal offence under the Criminal Code. In such circumstances, the complainant may consider submitting a police report against the offender to the employer or the Director General of Labour in addition to the complaint of sexual harassment. The first documented cases of sexual harassment in the workplace or misconduct by an employer towards an employee were observed as early as 1939, when Malaysia was still Malaysia under British colonial rule. [1] In 1941, the Klang Indian Union organized a series of strike actions and, as part of its demands, condemned the harassment of women workers by Europeans and “black Europeans” and demanded an end to this behavior. [2] In 1950, 106 women and men at the Panavan Karupiah estate in Perak went on strike against sexual harassment. [1] A sexual harassment case that is found to be a crime can be brought before the court at the same time.

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