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SC suspends lawyer for two years for sexual harassment at work

The Supreme Court (SC) suspended a lawyer for two years for committing sexual advances on a colleague at the workplace.

The high court imposed a two-year suspension from the practice of law on a senior partner in a law firm after a junior associate lawyer filed an administrative case.

The SC said the respondent was charged with committing “sexually-laced acts ranging from dirty jokes, innuendos, inappropriate personal intimate questions about her romantic relationships, and sharing about his extramarital sexual acts/conquests, to actual sexual advances.”

It added that the respondent also went confessing that he would have fallen for the complainant had they been within the same age range.

“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 women subordinates,” the SC said.

“The essence of sexual harassment is not the violation of the victim’s sexuality but rather the abuse of power and authority by the offender manifested through sexually charged conduct or one filled with sexual undertones,” it added.

The high court said the respondent’s behavior led to “emotional toll” on the complainant who had to seek psychotherapy treatment as a result of his acts.

Despite the respondent apologizing to the complainant, the SC said it cannot overshadow the gravity of his improper acts in light of his “indifferent and impervious attitude” to the complainant’s feelings.

“Accordingly, taking into consideration the nature or character of respondent’s complained acts, the frequency of occurrence of the said acts throughout the two-year period he worked with complainant, the degree of his moral influence or ascendancy, and the effect of his acts on her,” the SC said.

“The Court deemed it proper to impose upon respondent the penalty of suspension from the practice of law for a period of two years,” it added. —Richa Noriega/KG, GMA Integrated News