Question: I am employed at a freezone company in an administrative executive role. Our small department of three recently welcomed a new team leader who displays a high level of disrespect and frequently belittles us. His instructions are often inappropriate and unprofessional. He occasionally yells at us and then attempts to make amends by buying us snacks. Interestingly, he maintains a cordial demeanor with the company's directors and C-suite executives, making it nearly impossible to lodge a formal complaint against him. What actions should I take in this situation? To whom can I voice my concerns without fearing repercussions, particularly given that our company operates within a freezone?

Answer: Employers in the UAE are obligated to ensure a safe and suitable working environment for their employees, as stipulated by Article 13(13) of Federal Decree Law No. 33 of 2021 concerning the Regulation of Employment Relations. This law explicitly states, "The Employer shall provide a safe and appropriate working environment." Article 14(2) of the Employment Law also explicitly forbids various forms of harassment, such as sexual, verbal, physical, and psychological harassment, which can originate from employers, superiors, colleagues, or any individual working with the affected employee. This provision states, "It shall be prohibited to exercise sexual harassment, bullying or any verbal, physical or mental violence against the employee by his employer, manager or colleagues."

Additionally, if your supervisor is disrespectful and employs demeaning language or raises his voice at you in public, he could face imprisonment for up to six months or a fine of up to Dh5,000, according to Article 427 of the Federal Law No. 31 of 2021 on the Issuance of the Crimes and Penalties Law. This article reads: "A penalty of punished imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or a fine not exceeding Dh5,000 shall be imposed if the libel or slander is committed on the telephone or directly against the victim in the presence of others."

Should your supervisor verbally abuse or shout at you, you have the option to file a complaint against him with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE). Following this, you may choose to resign from your position without serving a notice period within five days of filing the complaint with MoHRE. This is supported by Article 45(2) of the Employment Law, which allows an employee to resign without notice and retain all their entitlements if they are subjected to assault, violence, or harassment at work by the employer or their legal representative, provided the employee reports the incident to the relevant authorities and the Ministry within five working days of being able to do so.

Ashish Mehta is the founder and Managing Partner of Ashish Mehta & Associates. He is qualified to practice law in Dubai, the United Kingdom, and India. For more details about his firm, visit Readers can send their questions to or to Legal View, Khaleej Times, PO Box 11243, Dubai.