What do you know about Israeli employment law? Prevention of Sexual Harassment
23 April 2023
Dear Clients and Friends,
We are pleased to present you with our second quarterly update for 2023 ! This time, we have chosen to devote our update to an issue that, unfortunately, is always relevant – prevention of sexual harassment at the workplace.
What do you know about the prevention of Sexual Harassment under Israeli Law?
This March, the Law for Prevention of Sexual Harassment, 1998 celebrated 25 years ! The law was passed at an inspiring moment when female Members of Knesset from all parties united in order to ensure that this unprecedented law would be approved. The Law, which, even to this day, is still considered to be one of the most comprehensive and advanced laws in this field, provides a clear definition of sexual harassment, determines various obligations applying to employers and also states how a complaint regarding sexual harassment or retaliation should be handled.
The law is dynamic and has been amended several times since its initial legislation in order to keep up with the changing times. The Labour Courts in Israel also take an active part in determining how the law should be interpreted and implemented and not a year goes by without new case law precedents regarding sexual harassment at the workplace.
This update obviously cannot cover all aspects of this complex law but we will try to provide you with some important insights and tips.
Purpose: The law aspires to prohibit sexual harassment in order to protect the dignity, freedom and privacy of any individual and to promote equality between the genders.
Did you know? In Israel, sexual harassment applies equally to all genders and its definition does not depend on the sex/gender of the harasser or of the harassed.
Definition of sexual harassment: Sexual harassment is defined as:
- Repetitive offers or references of a sexual nature, if the other party has expressed lack of interest;
- Blackmail of a sexual nature;
- A degrading reference towards another person’s sex, gender or sexuality, including his or her sexual inclination;
- An act intended for sexual arousal, satisfaction or degradation performed without consent;
- Publishing of a photograph, recording or film focusing on a person’s sexuality in circumstances in which this person may be humiliated or degraded and without this person’s consent.
Did you know? The prohibition regarding publishing harassing photographs, recordings and films was added to the law only a few years ago, in order to address this new kind of harassment which has become quite common in the recent technological and social media era.
Did you know? In cases of offers and references of a sexual nature, the behavior must be repetitive in order to be considered sexual harassment. Other forms of harassment, such as degrading references towards another person’s sex or sexuality, do not require this condition.
Relationship of Subordination or Dependence:
As explained above, some forms of harassment will only be defined as such if the other party shows a lack of interest and consent. However, the Law states that, in circumstances in which a relationship of subordination or dependence exists, the harassed party does not have to show lack of interest to the repetitive sexual offers or references. This determination is based on the assumption that when a relationship of subordination exists, the harassed party may be afraid to show his or her reluctance to the superior party’s behavior.
Did you know? Recent case law has introduces us to the term ‘relationship of influence’. In these circumstances, a victim of harassment will still need to prove his or her lack of interest, but the burden of proof will be significantly lower.
Prevention of Sexual Harassment Policy:
The law states that employers with over 25 employees must adopt a prevention of sexual harassment policy.
Did you know? The regulations must be based on the statutory model ordinance and therefore any unadjusted global policy is unlikely to be sufficient to meet the local legal requirements.
Did you know? The law provides clear incentive for smaller employers to implement a policy despite not being statutory obliged.
Appointee: Every employer is required to appoint an appointee for the prevention of sexual harassment, who is also responsible for investigating complaints regarding sexual harassment. This role is very complex and bears heavy responsibilities.
Did you know? The law sets out a preference for female appointees.
Training for the prevention of sexual harassment: To date, there is no statutory obligation to conduct trainings. There is, however, a statutory obligation to enable employees to participate in trainings that are conducted.
Did you know? Based on recent case law, it seems that the Courts are close to determining an obligation to conduct trainings. At the moment, there are specific statements of this nature regarding susceptible workplaces (such as bars), in which the lack of trainings was said to have reflected a failure to meet the legal obligations.
Accordingly, we highly recommend conducting routine training sessions at all workplaces. In light of the special responsibilities that apply to managerial positions, we recommend conducting separate trainings for managers and for employees.
Did you know? We at Herzog conduct prevention of sexual harassment trainings
We at Herzog conduct both (a) special training sessions for appointees, intended to train them for this important role; and (b) routine training sessions for employees and managers, which are always tailor-made to the nature and to any specific requirements of each and every workplace. For further details click here or on the link below. To learn more about Training Sessions for Appointees for the Prevention of Sexual Harassment click here.
We would be happy to answer any questions you may have and provide you with any further advice.
The Labour & Employment Department
Talk to us about prevention of Sexual Harassment under Israeli Law >> click here