Turkish Labour Law ("the Law") obliges employers to protect their employees as part of their duty of care, therefore this also includes protection against harassment.
Further, the Law deems sexual harassment in the workplace as a reason for immediate termination of employment. Therefore, if an employee who has experienced harassment at work and has previously reported the harassment to the employer, and the employer has failed to take the necessary precautions against the harassment, the harassed employee would be able to resign with immediate effect and seek certain statutory payments.
The Law and the related protection has been in place since 2003.
In addition, the Turkish Code of Obligations also requires employers to establish order in the workplace ensuring that the personal rights of employees are protected. However, the actual implications of this obligation, implemented in 2011, have not been well defined by court decisions and therefore remain relatively theoretical.
The Employee Welfare Act of 4 August 1996 prohibits violence, bullying and sexual harassment in the workplace.
Violence in the workplace means any factual situation in which a worker is threatened mentally or physically in performing their work. (The definition of violence is wide enough to include a threat - there is no need for physical violence.)
Bullying in the workplace can involve several similar or different instances of behaviour within the workplace or out of working hours with the aim or result of (i) harming the character, dignity or physical or mental integrity of a worker in the performance of their work or (ii) threatening their job or (iii) creating an intimidating and hostile environment.
Sexual harassment means any form or verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct with a sexual connotation whose aim is to harm someone’s dignity or to create an intimidating and hostile environment.
In 2014, major changes were made to the Employee Welfare Act of 4 August 1996, in order to improve the protections around violence, bullying and sexual harassment in the workplace.
The Social Penal Code punishes anyone who commits acts of violence, bullying and sexual harassment in the workplace. The Social Penal Code is dedicated to criminal actions in the framework of an employment relationship. There is also a General Penal Code for all other criminal actions. Criminal sanctions are applicable in case of workplace violence, bullying or sexual harassment.