I am a single mother working in a department store as a saleslady for men’s shoes. I currently have a five-month employment contract. I have been working in this department store for 14 months al-ready. My contract was renewed twice by management upon recommendation of my immediate su-perior. My current contract has one month left, and I am due for another renewal.
Recently however, my immediate superior Mr. A has been telling me that he might not recommend me for renewal this time around since according to him, I do not join him when he asks me out for drinks after office hours. The other day, I approached him, and directly asked him what it would take for me to get his recommendation for renewal since I really need this job in order to support my 3-year-old son. He then told me that if I would spend one night with him in a hotel, he would then give me his favorable recommendation.
I felt violated, and I would just want to know if under the law, my superior is committing any offense against me. I turned down his invitation and nothing has happened between us.
A request for sexual favors from a superior in the workplace, as a condition for reemployment, is clear-ly a violation of Republic Act (RA) 787 or the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995. Under this law, work-related sexual harassment is committed by any person who, having moral ascendancy over another in a work environment, requests or otherwise requires any sexual favor from the other, regardless of whether the request is accepted. Section 3, Par (a) (1), (2), and (3) of the said law provide:
SECTION 3. Work, Education or Training-Related, Sexual Harassment Defined. – Work, education or training-related sexual harassment is committed by an employer, employee, manager, supervisor, agent of the employer, teacher, instructor, professor, coach, trainor or any other person who, having authority, influence or moral ascendancy over another in a work or training or education 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 this 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 con-tinued 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, segre-gating or classifying the employee which in any way would discriminate, deprive or diminish employ-ment 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.
In your situation, since Mr. A is your superior, he has moral ascendancy over you in the workplace. Fur-ther, his favorable recommendation for the renewal of your contract has a substantial impact on your chances of reemployment. The fact that he is threatening to withhold such recommendation if you fail to give in to his request to spend a night with him in a hotel constitutes the offense of sexual harass-ment in the workplace even if you are yet to give in to his perverted request.
Under RA, the penalty for such violation upon conviction is imprisonment of not less than one month nor more than six months, or a fine of not less than Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00) or more than Twenty Thousand Pesos (P20,000.00) or both such fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the court.
We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based sole-ly 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 firstname.lastname@example.org