Sexual Harassment

Sexual Harassment

There is no provision in Labour Act that prohibits sexual harassment or any other kind of harassment during employment. If an employee consider that the employer is harassing him/her, the employee can terminate the employment contract by providing the giving an appropriate notice. However, if an employer terminates the employment contract, it is not considered as harassment because the Nigerian law clearly states that the employer can terminate the employment contract for any reason or may be for no reason at all.  A Labour Standards Bill, submitted in the National Assembly in 2008, had provision on sexual harassment however the said bill has not been passed yet.

The Criminal Law of Lagos State prohibits harassment and describes harassment as unwelcome sexual advances, request for sexual favours, and other visual, verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature which when submitted to or rejected - (a) implicitly or explicitly affects a person’s employment or educational opportunity or unreasonably interferes with the person’s work or educational performance; (b) implicitly or explicitly suggests that submission to or rejection of the conduct will be a factor in academic or employment decisions; or (c) creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive learning or working environment. Any person who sexually harasses another is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for three years.

Employee Compensation Act provides for compensation in the case of mental stress to a worker if the mental stress is an acute reaction to a sudden and unexpected traumatic event arising out of or in the course of the employee's employment; or (b) diagnosed by an accredited medical practitioner as a mental or physical condition amounting to mental stress arising out of the nature of work or the occurrence of any event in the course of the employee's employment. If the mental stress is caused as a result of the decision of the employer to change the work, the working conditions of work organization in such a way as to unfairly exceed the work ability and capacity of the employee thereby leading to mental stress, such situation is liable to compensation to the degree as may be determined under any regulation made by the Board. Thus, a victim of workplace harassment may be able to claim compensation under this provision.

Source: §11(1) of the Labour Act (Cap L1 LFN 2004); §262 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011; §9 of the Employees Compensation Act, 2010

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