1.The definition of “workplace harassment” and the requirement of filing a petition to the labor office
Workplace harassment means the act of causing physical or mental suffering to other employees or deteriorate the work environment beyond the appropriate scope of work by taking advantage of superiority in rank, relationship, etc. in the workplace. You can file a petition to the labor office of Ministry of Labor and Employment if you have been harassed by your supervisor or the person who has control over you and if your work place has not less than five regular employees.
2.Elements of workplace harassment
There are three required elements that constitute workplace harassment as follows;
1) using superiority in rank, relationship, etc. in the workplace;
2) beyond the appropriate scope of work;
3) causing physical or mental suffering to other employees or deteriorate the work environment
3.Types of workplace harassment
The categorized types of the acts are as follows;
1) Ignoring or laughing at the employee’s ability or performance without justifiable reasons;
2) Discriminating the employee in training, promotion, compensation and daily treatment without justifiable reasons;
3) Repeating to giving the employee certain tasks that are not specified on the employment contract and every employee doesn’t want to do;
4) Giving odd jobs that are not stated on the employment agreement or not giving work to the employee;
5) Excluding the employee from providing important information related to the work or important decision making related to the work without justifiable reasons;
6) Forcing the employee not to take vacation or sick leave or welfare benefit;
7) Monitoring the employee during the break excessively;
8) Repeating to force the employee to do the supervisor’s errands;
9) Forcing the employee to move to another department or resign without justifiable reasons
10) Talking behind the employee’s back or spreading a rumor on the employee;
11) Doing verbal abuse to the employee;
12) Insulting the employee in front of others or via online;
13) Forcing the employee to drink or smoke;
15) Not providing the employee with necessary supplies(e.g.> computer, phone) blocking the employee from the internet or intra networks
4.Legal actions that harassed employees can take against the harasser
First of all, a harassed employee may report the harassment to the employer. However, if the employer doesn’t investigate the case or take any action after he or she is reported, the harassed employee can file a petition to the labor office. If it is found that the workplace harassment has been committed, the labor officer will request the workplace to correct it and take disciplinary action against the harasser. If the harasser is the employer or the employer’s kin, the harasser shall be subject to administrative fine not more than 10 million KRW.
Also, the victim may press a charge against the harasser as well as filing a labor petition if the harasser threatened or assaulted or committed any kind of a crime to the victim.
If you are to file a case to the labor office or press a charge against the harasser, you will have to specify and clarify the harassment and collect the evidence to prove it.
5.The relevant articles of Labor Standards Act
The relevant articles of Labor Standards Act are as follows;
Article 76-2 (Prohibition against Workplace Harassment)
No employer or employee shall cause physical or mental suffering to other employees or deteriorate the work environment beyond the appropriate scope of work by taking advantage of superiority in rank, relationship, etc. in the workplace (hereinafter referred to as “workplace harassment”).
[This Article Newly Inserted on Jan. 15, 2019]
Article 76-3 (Measures in Cases of Workplace Harassment)
(1) Anyone who has learned the occurrence of workplace harassment may report such fact to the employer.
(2) Where an employer receives a report under paragraph (1) or becomes aware of the occurrence of workplace harassment, the employer shall, without delay, conduct an objective investigation of the persons involved to ascertain the fact. <Amended on Apr. 13 2021>
(3) Where necessary to protect employees who suffer or claim to suffer workplace harassment (hereinafter referred to as “victimized employees, etc.”) while investigation under paragraph (2) is conducted, the employer shall take appropriate measures for the victimized employees, etc., such as transferring their place of work or ordering them a paid leave of absence. In such cases, the employer shall not take measures contrary to the will of the victimized employees, etc.
(4) Where the occurrence of workplace harassment is verified as a result of investigation under paragraph (2), the employer shall take appropriate measures for the victimized employees, etc., such as transferring their place of work, giving them a lateral transfer or ordering them a paid leave of absence, if the victimized employees, etc. make a request.
(5) Where the occurrence of workplace harassment is verified as a result of investigation under paragraph (2), the employer shall, without delay, take necessary measures, such as taking disciplinary measures against the perpetrator of workplace harassment or transferring his or her place of work. In such cases, before taking disciplinary measures, etc., the employer shall hear opinions of the victimized employees, etc. on such measures.
(6) No employer shall dismiss employees who report the occurrence of workplace harassment, victimized employees, etc., or treat them unfavorably.
(7) No person who investigates the occurrence of workplace harassment pursuant to paragraph (2), who receives a report on the details of investigation, or who participates in the investigation process of workplace harassment shall divulge confidential information learned in the course of investigation to any other persons against the will of the victimized employees, etc.: Provided, That the same shall not apply where the investigator reports matters relating to the investigation to the employer or provides necessary information at the request of a relevant institution. <Newly Inserted on Apr. 13 2021>
Article 116 (Administrative Fines)
(1) If an employer (including cases where a person prescribed by Presidential Decree, who is a relative referred to in Article 767 of the Civil Act of an employer, is an employee in the relevant business or workplace) commits workplace harassment in violation of Article 76-2, he or she shall be subject to an administrative fine not exceeding 10 million won. <Newly Inserted on Apr. 13, 2021>