Sexual harassment at the workplace

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Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
I am a 26-year-old female call center agent in Pasig City, and I have been working with the same company for almost three years now. My immediate supervisor and team leader, Mr. John, is a 35-year-old guy who is very close to all eight of us who are part of his night-shift team. One time, while we were having drinks after office hours (at 7:00 a.m.), we played a game of Truth or Dare whereby I was dared by my team mates to do a “body shot” on Mr. John. I strongly refused since he is my immediate superior and found it inappropriate, but Mr. John took my refusal to do a body shot on him supposedly as an offensive insult. After that incident, I was no longer invited to the team’s gimmicks, was required to render overtime work more than the others, and lastly, my representation allowance was also removed from me. One of my team mates informed me that this was my penalty for not giving in to the dare. May I file a complaint against Mr. John?
Yanyan

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Dear Yanyan,
Based on your narration of facts, it would appear that you have become a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace despite your refusal to give in to perform the sexual favor. Section 3 of Republic Act (RA) 7877 or the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995 provides:

“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 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;

Xxx”

Tested against the foregoing, it clearly appears that the discrimination you are suffering as well as the diminution of your benefits subsequent to your drinking spree with Mr. John resulted from your refusal to grant the sexual favor or body shot. Hence, you may be able to file a criminal case under the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act against Mr. John.

Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated. We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.

Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net

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