The Sexual Harassment Prevention Act defines types of conduct that constitute sexual harassment. Further, it sets out where such conduct constitutes both a criminal offence that is punishable by imprisonment and a civil tort that allows the court to award compensation without proof of harm.

The Act prohibits:

  • blackmailing someone into performing acts of a sexual nature;
  • an indecent act (one incident is sufficient);
  • repeated comments of a sexual nature;
  • repeated references to sexuality;
  • degrading references to a person's gender or sexual preferences;
  • taking advantage of a relationship of subordination or authority in a sexual manner; and
  • publishing photographs of a sexual nature of a person without their consent.

The law deals extensively with sexual harassment in the workplace, and it is the responsibility of employers to act to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. An employer is vicariously liable for the civil consequences of any sexual harassment or prejudicial treatment that is perpetrated by an employee. The employer's civil liability is in addition to the harasser's individual civil and criminal liability. In order to avoid liability, an employer must take all the measures prescribed by the sexual harassment law.

The employer must appoint a supervisor who deals directly with sexual harassment issues in the workplace and formulate an effective method for submitting sexual harassment or persecution complaints. In this context, the employer must expressly forbid the sexual harassment or persecution of both employees and clients. This can be reinforced by conducting explanatory and instructional activities in which all employees must participate and by communicating the relevant regulations to all employees. Such information should also be displayed in a prominent area in the workplace.

When an employee files a sexual harassment complaint (or if the employer becomes aware of a potential incident), the employer must investigate. At the end of the investigation, the appointed investigator will produce a summary of their findings and recommendations for handling the complaint. The investigator must then pass these on to the employer.

The employer must decide within seven working days whether to take steps to prevent the sexual harassment case from developing and remedy the damage caused to the complainant. During the investigation, the employer must protect the complainant against any adverse effect on employment conditions as a result of the complaint. Further, the employer must separate the alleged harasser from the complainant as much as possible and take any other action that is deemed reasonable under the circumstances.

The employer must also provide the complainant with substantiated written notification about its decision, thereby enabling the complainant to review the recommendations of the supervisor of sexual harassment. As a rule, the other materials collected or produced during the internal investigation (including summaries and transcripts of conversations with the complainant, the accused individual and witnesses) are confidential.

For further information on this topic please contact Efrat Deutsch at Efrat Deutsch & Co by telephone (+972-3-6096960‚Äč) or email ([email protected]). The Efrat Deutsch & Co website can be accessed at www.edz-law.co.il.