Threatening blackmail against co-worker not the appropriate way to resolve workplace issues

I have been working for a school since September. My line manager was not treating me well and as I knew some information about her I sent her an email telling her to be nicer or I would tell the school. When she received it, she went to the principal and claimed I was lying. She also threatened to sue me. I have other information that could cause her to lose her job but have kept that quiet. I was then involved in another incident, when someone made a claim against me that was not upheld although I have been told that if there is another complaint about me I would be dismissed. I wasn’t happy and eventually resigned but the amount they are paying me is much lower than I expected and I was shocked. I think they planned for me to resign so they did not have to pay me more money than if I left at their request. Can I take action against the school or the people there? EC, Abu Dhabi

This is a rather ugly situation. Threatening to use information about someone in this way is called blackmail and the line manager was within her rights to take action against EC. If someone is being unpleasant in the workplace there are steps than can be taken and it is unfair and inappropriate to threaten someone in this way. The school could have made her redundant and while notice would have had to be given there would have been no compensation due as this would not have been classed as arbitrary dismissal. As EC was on a fixed contract she has broken the terms of the contract by resigning so there are penalties to be paid, namely a penalty that “may not exceed half a month’s pay for a period of three months or for the remaining period of contract whichever is shorter” in accordance with Article 116 of UAE Labour Law, and there is no entitlement to an end of service gratuity.

In view of the situation and that EC has previously received a warning from the school I do not believe that she has any case, especially as she resigned.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with more than 20 years’ experience. Contact her at Follow her on Twitter at @FinancialUAE.

The advice provided in our columns does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only.

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