What is Sexual Harassment?
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 acceptable by the object of said Act. (Sexual Harassment Act, RA 7877)
In a work-related environment, sexual harassment is committed when:
a) The sexual favor is made as a condition in the hiring or in the employment, re-employment or continued employment of an individual;
b) Granting an individual favorable compensation, terms, conditions, promotions or privileges, or
c) The refusal to grant sexual favor results in the limiting, segregating or classifying the employee which in any way would discriminate, deprive or diminish employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect said employee. (The Seven Secrets of Success in Employee Discipline and Dismissal, by Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez, p.621.).
The duty of the employer of head of the work-related, educational or training environment with respect to the issue of sexual harassment are as follows:
a) To prevent or deter the commission of acts of sexual harassment;
b) To provide procedures for the resolution, settlement or prosecution of acts of sexual harassment.
c) Promulgate appropriate rules and regulations in consultation with and jointly approved by the employees or students or trainees, prescribing the procedure for the investigation of sexual harassment cases and the administrative sanctions therefor. Such rules and regulations shall include guidelines and proper decorum in the workplace and educational or training institutions.
d) Create a committee on decorum and investigation of cases on sexual harassment. The committee shall be composed of at least one (1) representative each from the management, the union (if any), the employees from the supervisory rank, and from the rank and file employees. In case of educational institutions, the committee shall be composed of at least one (1) representative from the administration, the trainors, teachers, instructors, professors, coaches and students or trainees, as the case may be. The employer or educational institution shall disseminate or post a copy of the Sexual Harassment Act for the information of all concerned in the work premises.
Administrative sanctions shall not be a bar to prosecution in the proper courts for unlawful acts of sexual harassment. Any action arising from the violation of the provisions of the Sexual Harassment Act shall prescribe in three (3) years.
Let it be known that the concept of sexual harassment in the workplace is not about a man taking advantage of a woman by reason of sexual desire; it is about power being exercised by a superior officer over his subordinates. The power emanates from the fact that the superior can remove the subordinate from his workplace if the latter would refuse his amorous advances. [YOLANDA FLORALDE, NIDA VELASCO and NORMELITA ALAMBRA vs. COURT OF APPEALS, G.R. No. 123048. August 8, 2000]. Therefore, sexual harassment can be committed by a woman against her male subordinates, or a male against his male subordinates, if power is being exercised and the power emanates from the fact that the superior can remove the subordinate from the workplace if the latter refuses the superior’s amorous advances.
The following have already been ruled by the Supreme Court as acts constituting Sexual Harassment:
a) Touching the hands and shoulder, and caressing the nape of his subordinate employee (Carlos Libres vs. NLRC, May 28, 1999, G.R. No. 123737)
b) A presiding Judge, using his position by demanding and soliciting sexual demands from his subordinate to enter his room daily for a kiss as a condition for the signing of the subordinate’s permanent appointment as a bookbinder in his Court. (Rogelio M. Esteban vs. Sandiganbayan, G.R. Nos. 146646-49, March 11, 2005).