My daughter informed me that she is being sexually harassed by her supervisor at work. She is relatively new in their company in Caloocan. She has only been regularized four months ago. She said that the harassment started last February when her supervisor would frequently quip that he finds her very attractive, that he likes her face and that she is sexy. Although she felt very uneasy, she would just ignore him. She would normally avoid being in the same room with him because she does not think she will be able to control her temper. She is also afraid that if she will answer back she might get in trouble at work.
Last March during their company outing, her supervisor kept placing his arm over her shoulders to the point that his hand would land closely to her chest. She moved his arm away each time, but he would just place it back. She felt violated, so she stood up and walked away irritated. A few days after that, she reported those incidents to their office, but was told by an officer from their HR that her complaint may not be given weight considering that there was no clear demand on her part to do sexual favors or that acts of her supervisor will result to her employment benefit. Is this true? Does my daughter have no other recourse? I hope you can help enlighten us.
Your daughter should pursue calling the attention of her employer as regards the harassments she has encountered or continues to encounter with her supervisor. Contrary to the claim of their Human Resource Officer, it is not essential that there be a demand for her to do sexual favors or that the sexual advances made on her be in exchange of any employment benefit. There may still be sexual harassment when the acts of a superior bring about an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment for your daughter.
Section 3 of Republic Act No. 7877, otherwise known as the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995, provides that:
“Work, x x x-related sexual harassment is committed by an employer, employee, manager, supervisor, agent of the employer, x x x or any other person who, having authority, influence or moral ascendancy over another in a work x x x environment, demands, requests or otherwise requires any sexual favor from the other, regardless of whether the demand, request or requirement for submission is accepted by the object of said act.
(a) In a work-related or employment environment, sexual harassment is committed when:
(1) The sexual favor is made as a condition in the hiring or in the employment, re-employment or continued employment of said individual, or in granting said individual favorable compensation, terms of conditions, promotions, or privileges; or the refusal to grant the sexual favor results in limiting, segregating or classifying the employee which in any way would discriminate, deprive or diminish employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect said employee;
(2) The above acts would impair the employee’s rights or privileges under existing labor laws; or
(3) The above acts would result in an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment for the employee.” (emphasis supplied)
If her grievance falls on deaf ears, she may opt to file her complaint before the Office of the Prosecutor of Caloocan City within three years from the date on which such acts complained of transpired. She may also institute a separate and independent action for damages and other affirmative relief. (Sections 6 and 7, Ibid.) We wish to emphasize that her employer may be held solidarily liable for damages if it can be clearly shown that, after having been informed of such acts, they did not take any immediate action thereto. (Section 5, Id.)
We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to email@example.com