Can you sue for sexual harassment? Federal Court to decide today

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Honey Tan of rights group Empower labels sexual harassment a ‘gender-based crime’, claiming it affects women disproportionately more than men. ― File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 26 ― A victim of sexual harassment will find out today if she can sue her alleged perpetrator for compensation under common law, amid limited avenue for redress currently available to victims nationwide under the Employment Act 1955.

Should the Federal Court decide in favour of the victim, women’s rights activists say it would be “a big step forward” for others in similar disputes, especially as existing laws offer little relief to those seeking retribution in such cases.

“It’s important to understand the problems of sexual harassment. We know it’s prevalent, but it’s very difficult to bring a claim for harassment [to court].

“I believe [today’s case] is important because it’s asking the Federal Court to consider whether there is a right for victim to claim for damages under the law of tort, under common law.

“The reason why the victim has to go to common law, it is because there is no existing legislation that can fully protect women from harassment,” Sumitra Visvanathan, the executive director of Women’s Aid Organisation, told Malay Mail Online over phone. Read more