Work-related sexual harassment

SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN A WORK-RELATED OR EMPLOYMENT-RELATED ENVIRONMENT. In a work-related or employment environment, sexual harassment is committed when:

[1] The sexual favor is made 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, 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.

In other words, our law against sexual harassment not only protects the dignity and person of the victim but also upholds his or her right to humane conditions of work and dignity as a working person. In fact, Section 2 of Republic Act No. (RA) 7877, or the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995, provides that the State shall value the dignity of every individual, enhance the development of its human resources, guarantee full respect for human rights, and uphold the dignity of workers, employees, applicants for employment, students or those undergoing training, instruction or education.

Although often the victims of sexual harassment in the workplace are females, the law does not distinguish. In short, even males are protected by RA 7877.

Libres v. NLRC (G.R. No. 123737; May 28, 1999). The act of the manager in touching a female subordinate’s hand and shoulder, caressing her nape and telling other people that the subordinate was the one who hugged and kissed him or that she responded to his sexual advances, was considered an act of sexual harassment for which he was penalized by the company with a 30-day suspension whose validity the Supreme Court affirmed.

Domingo v. Rayala (G.R. No. 155831; February 18, 2008). This involves a sexual harassment suit filed against Rogelio I. Rayala, the former Chairman of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) by a subordinate, Ma. Lourdes T. Domingo, then Stenographic Reporter III. Rayala contends that the acts ascribed to him do not constitute sexual harassment because Domingo did not allege in her complaint that there was a demand, request, or requirement of a sexual favor as a condition for her continued employment or for her promotion to a higher position. In disagreeing with this postulation and in holding Rayala liable for sexual harassment, the High Court ruled: “Yet, even if we were to test Rayala’s acts strictly by the standards set in Section 3, RA 7877, he would still be administratively liable. It is true that this provision calls for a ‘demand, request or requirement of a sexual favor. ’ But it is not necessary that the demand, request or requirement of a sexual favor be articulated in a categorical oral or written statement. It may be discerned, with equal certitude, from the acts of the offender. Holding and squeezing Domingo’s shoulders, running his fingers across her neck and tickling her ear, having inappropriate conversations with her, giving her money allegedly for school expenses with a promise of future privileges, and making statements with unmistakable sexual overtones - all these acts of Rayala resound with deafening clarity the unspoken request for a sexual favor.

“Likewise, contrary to Rayala’s claim, it is not essential that the demand, request or requirement be made as a condition for continued employment or for promotion to a higher position. It is enough that the respondent’s acts result in creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment for the employee. That the acts of Rayala generated an intimidating and hostile environment for Domingo is clearly shown by the common factual finding of the Investigating Committee, the OP and the CA that Domingo reported the matter to an officemate and, after the last incident, filed for a leave of absence and requested transfer to another unit.”

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