By Michal Tadjer, Attorney, Kav LaOved Legal Department
Every year we witness many workers, male and especially female, not complaining of financial violations of rights, but rather reporting demeaning personal treatment and bullying. Today, demeaning treatment is not fully recognized by the courts and is hard to prove and address. Degraded employees are often left with no solution to their problem or support.
As this report was being compiled, the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor (MOITAL) published new research on the subject in January, titled “Harassment and Bullying in the Workplace.” It shows that over half of workers in Israel have suffered from harassment in the workplace. Most of the harassment comes from managers; over half of these workerssaid the harassments were a significant bother in their workplace.
In reviewing this year’s appeals made to Kav LaOved, it is apparent that this issue, which has no actual legal answer, brings workers to the brink of desperation and hopelessness, and they are in need of help. The following complaints illustrate the levels of harassment experienced:
This kind of humiliation can also occur prior to starting a job. We were contacted by L, a young job-seeker who was considering applying for a job at a marketing company. However, this was what the ad for the company said:
Designer uniforms will be provided for the work, including shirt, pants, and shoes. **Pants up to size 40.
If you think you’re a good fit, hurry and sign up.”
L, whose pants size is over 40, felt humiliated and embarrassed even before the start of the job, which she wasn’t even “eligible” for due to her pants size.
The gendered nature of workplace bullying is clearly illustrated in these three appeals for Kav LaOved’s assistance, which stands in contrast to the findings in the research conducted by MOITAL. Their report concludes that women suffer less workplace harassment than men, perhaps due to broad interpretation of the law against sexual harassment, which thenprevents harassments of a non-sexual nature. Their conclusion does not align with the trend of appeals made to Kav LaOved over the past year and the years before. We believe there needs to be further examination of the characteristics and extent of harassment and bullying of women in the workplace.