SC affirms company liability in sexual harassment case

SC affirms company liability in sexual harassment case

/ 05:44 AM February 04, 2024

Prescription period for cyberlibel is 1 year – Supreme Court


The Supreme Court has affirmed a company’s liability in terms of unpaid salary and damages to a woman who experienced sexual harassment in that workplace.

In a decision penned by Associate Justice Jhosep Lopez, the high court’s Second Division upheld the 2019 decision and a 2020 resolution of the Court of Appeals (CA) affirming the “constructive dismissal” of an employee of Xerox Business Services Philippines (also known as Xerox Services) following her complaint of sexual harassment in 2015.


A company commits constructive dismissal when an employee is forced to resign due to the hostile work environment of his or her place of employment. Under such circumstances, the company is deemed liable to pay damages to that employee.


In its ruling on the case, the Supreme Court cited the “hostile, offensive and intimidating work environment perpetrated by Xerox Business.”

It noted further that “an employee is deemed constructively dismissed if he or she was sexually harassed by his or her superior, and said superior failed to act on the employee’s complaint with promptness and sensitivity.”

Sexual advances

As the high court’s Public Information Office (PIO) recounted the case, in 2015 the employee sought the help of Nilo dela Peña, her assigned team leader, because of a system error in her temporary headset.

She was told to get a replacement in a storage room and while she was inside, Dela Peña suddenly appeared and pleaded to her in a lewd language to not resist his advances. His alleged remarks to her were quoted in the complaint.

The headset that the employee got turned out to be similarly defective, and as she returned to the storage room, “[t]o her surprise, Dela Peña approached her, grabbed her waist, and tried to kiss her when she hurriedly moved away,” the PIO said.

It added that the “complainant struggled to push Dela Peña away, but the latter was able to hug her and grope her breasts.”


After that incident, the employee said she “detested going to work” and became “anxious and paranoid.”

She said she filed a complaint with the company’s Human Resources Department (HRD), but the “management did not give her any protection.”

The employee further claimed that her compensation for three days was not paid. This prompted her to file with the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) complaints of sexual harassment against Dela Peña and of unpaid compensation and damages against Xerox Services and its HRD.


A labor arbiter ruled in favor of the employee, saying that the company was liable for constructive dismissal for failure to investigate the reported harassment.

Xerox Services would later claim, as noted by the appellate court, that it did order an investigation but “did not find convincing evidence to warrant the imposition of the supreme penalty of [Dela Peña’s] termination.”

The labor arbiter recommended that the company pay the employee moral damages of P100,000, exemplary damages of P50,000 and a three-day salary of P2,630.58.

NLRC affirmed that ruling and even increased the combined moral and exemplary damages to P500,000.

READ: Supreme Court reports improved case resolution rate in 2023

But the appellate court, in its resolution, reverted the damages to P100,000 and P50,000, saying that these amounts served as reasonable compensation for the suffering caused to the injured party.

The CA’s decision prompted the employee to petition the Supreme Court for a review, which the high court junked.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

The Supreme Court nevertheless affirmed the constructive dismissal of the employee, adding that Xerox Services was remiss in its duty to deter the commission of sexual harassment as mandated by Republic Act No. 7877, or the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995.

TAGS: harassment, Supreme Court

© Copyright 1997-2024 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.