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Alvaro González-Schiaffino and Jorge De Presno, partners at Basham, Ringe y Correa, Eduardo Juan Viñales of Funes de Rioja & Asociados, Enrique Munita, of Munita, Olavarria & Saez, José Antonio Valdez from Estudio Olaechea, and José Carlos Wahle from Veirano Advogados explain what this means for companies in their jurisdictions.
All the firms are members of Ius Laboris, the world’s largest labour and employment law firm alliance.
If there is a case of sexual harassment within the workplace, the company is liable for damages to the victim.
The company’s diligence in fulfilling its duties will determine the extension of such damages.
Alternatively, they are integrated into labour and employment laws or into specific regulations which protect against such violence.
Sexual harassment typically involves a pattern of behaviour.
Some take the form of a special law, others classify it as a type of crime in their penal codes.
It can also take the form of a single incident involving a wide range of behaviours, from glances and rude jokes to demeaning comments based on gender stereotypes and even sexual assault and other acts of physical violence.
Although the legal definition varies from country to country, a comprehensive definition considers sexual harassment as any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favours, verbal or physical conduct or gesture of a sexual nature, as well as any other behaviour of a sexual nature that might reasonably be expected or be perceived to cause offense or humiliation to another.
Diligence and continuous education are instrumental for the avoidance of any corporate liability.
Hotlines and independent investigations are also essential measures to deliver the message that the company will not tolerate harassment.The company has a duty to provide its employees with a harassment-free workplace.Accordingly, it must orient, supervise and discipline its employees to secure compliance with the labour laws.If there is a reported case of harassment, the company must immediately conduct a swift and confidential investigation and deliver the appropriate disciplinary action.