What is Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?
Republic Act no. 7877 declares unlawful any act that is calculated to harass an employee within the workplace for the purpose of soliciting sexual favors and provides the appropriate penalty for any violation thereof. Generally, the law defines the term “Sexual Harassment” as an act 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.
When does sexual harassment committed in a workplace?
Specifically, sexual harassment is committed in a work setting when the following acts are performed:
Not only does the law punish the doer of the enumerated acts, it also includes individuals who direct or induce another to commit any act of sexual harassment as defined, or who cooperate in the commission thereof by another without which it would not have been committed.
Under the law employment in the Philippines, it is the duty of the owner or head of office to promulgate appropriate rules and regulations in consultation with and jointly approved by their duly designated representatives, prescribing the procedure for the investigation of sexual harassment cases and the administrative sanctions therefor. These rules shall also include guidelines on proper decorum in the workplace and educational or training institutions. Administrative sanctions, however, shall not be a bar to prosecution in the proper courts for unlawful acts of sexual harassment. Also, the owner or head of office shall create a committee on decorum and investigation of cases on sexual harassment. The committee shall conduct meetings, as the case may be, with officers and employees to increase understanding and prevent incidents of sexual harassment. It shall also conduct the investigation of alleged cases constituting 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.
The employer or head of office shall be solidarily liable for damages arising from the acts of sexual harassment committed in the employment in the Philippines in case he or she is informed of such acts by the offended party and no immediate action is taken. An employee who has been the victim of sexual harassment may file an independent action for damages and relief.
Any person who commits any violation of the law such as sexual harassment shall be punished by either a fine or imprisonment or both.