Workplace Sexual Harassment

Since the first week of March is National Women’s Week, we are sharing the material on Workplace Sexual Harassment from DOLE Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns.  These are the things you should know about Sexual Harassment in the workplace.

What is Sexual Harassment?

As generally understood by the public, sexual harassment is any unwanted sexual attention. This attention can be verbal, visual, gestural, or physical and can range from a sexist remark to sexual assault. Under Republic Act No. 7877 (The Anti­Sexual Harassment Act of 1995), the harasser’s intention is irrelevant. The victim’s perception of the situation as wanted or unwanted determines whether or not it is sexual harassment.

Sexual Harassment under RA 7877 must be work, education or training-related

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.

* i.e. employer, manager, supervisor, agent of the

employer for work-related environment

Work-Related Sexual Harassment – how it is committed (RA 7877)
  • The sexual favor is made as a condition in the following instances:

– in the hiring or in the employment, re­employment or continued employment of the said individual; and

– or in granting said individual favorable compensation, terms, conditions, promotions or privilege; 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 offended party; or

  • The demand, request, or requirement for sexual favor would (a) impair the offended party’s rights or privileges under existing labor laws or (b) results in an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment for the offended party.

Duties of the Employer under RA 7877

  • Prevent or deter the commission of acts of sexual harassment
  • Provide the procedures for resolution, settlement, or prosecution of acts of sexual harassment through:
  • Guidelines on Proper Decorum in the Workplace
  • Procedures for the investigation of sexual harassment cases and the administrative sanctions for those cases in consultation with and jointly approved by the employees, through their duly designated representatives.
  • Create a Committee on Decorum and Investigation (CODI)* who shall conduct the investigation of alleged cases constituting sexual harassment.
  • Disseminate/post a copy of RA 7877 for the information of all concerned.

* composed of at least one (1) representative each from the management, the union, if any, the employer from the supervising rank, and from the rank and file employees

What to do if sexually harassed

  • Be prepared
  • Object or resist. You should make it clear to the harasser that you do not consent to their behavior and you want them to stop. You can do this either verbally or in writing.
  • If can’t resist, keep a log or diary of incidents
    • Date of incident
    • Time of incident
    • Place of incident
    • Name of person/s who caused the harassment
    • What actually happened
    • How the victim felt at the time of the harassment
    • Name of any person who is present at the time (i.e. saw the incident itself/ who can corroborate the event(s) that preceded or followed the incident)
  • Don’t suffer in silence. Seek advice and support from trusted friends and colleagues.
  • Take a formal action and file:
    • an administrative complaint with the company’s CODI; and/or
    • an independent civil action with the courts to enforce payment of damages or injuries and/or for preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order; and/or a
    • a criminal case with the courts to penalize the harasser with imprisonment or fine or both for the commission of the sexual harassment.
  • Any action arising from the violation of the provisions of RA 7877 must be filed within three (3) years from the time it is committed.
  • Keep a record of efficiency or merit citations. This is very important to prove job competence in case you are demoted or worse, fired from the job, because of refusal from sexual advances or reporting a committed act or acts of sexual harassment.

Penalty for crime of sexual harassment under RA 7877

  • Republic Act No. 7877 provides the penalty of imprisonment of not less than one (1) month nor
    more than six (6) months or fine of not less than ten thousand pesos (P10,000) nor more than twenty thousand pesos (P20,000) or both at the discretion of the court.

 

What if the offender is a co-employee of equivalent or lower rank than the offended party?

The said act of ‘sexual harassment’ is not covered by RA 7877. However, some specific provisions of the Revised Penal Code may be applied.