The Tribunal Supreme has confirmed the sentence of one year in prison imposed on a man who harassed a female employee of his company until the latter committed suicide. The judges understand that he committed “stubborn harassment” against the woman “with contempt for her dignity as a worker“changing his job without giving him any functions or tools and that this led to the suicide of the victim in 2015. The company for which they both worked must take charge of the compensation as a subsidiary civil liability.
The events, according to the sentence to which Cadena SER has had access, began in Córdoba in 2014. The woman had been working as an administrative assistant for four years in the Andalusian delegation of the Valencian restaurant company Collective Catering Industry (IRCO), where the accused was his boss. A health inspector from the Junta de Andalucía who illegally combined his work inspecting facilities while working as the Andalusian area manager for IRCO, a company that managed some of them.
The increase in clients and workload led the victim to take an anxiety leave in 2014, starting the harassment when he tried to rejoin a few months later. The company notified her of the dismissal although she proceeded to reinstate her to avoid going to trial: it was then that she was changed to a job that had nothing to do with her: a “indeterminate kitchen stall with various tasks“(…) with contempt for her dignity as a worker and with the award of an undetermined job no clear functions nor concretized “.
This situation of harassment, with decisions “promoted and assumed by the accused,” ended with his suicide in the summer of 2015. According to what Justice has declared, the situation “generated discomfort, anxiety and a situation that threatened his moral integrity, which unfortunately led to , to kill himself on August 4, 2015Now the Supreme Court has confirmed the sentences handed down by the Cordovan courts: one year in jail for his boss for the harassment in addition to a fine of 27,000 euros for working illegally for the company and a compensation of 50,000 euros for the victim’s family, which must be taken over in a subsidiary manner by the company for which they both worked.
A “stubborn harassment”
The Supreme Court, with the magistrate Manuel Marchena As a speaker, he has studied the resources of the harasser and the company, which with the support of the Prosecutor’s Office they questioned whether the victim had actually been subjected to workplace harassment. The high court acknowledged that any stressful situation at work cannot be considered as criminal harassment but that in this case the victim was subjected to a “stubborn” harassment by his boss with “decisions aimed at discouraging his spirits and dispensing with his services”, a harassment that “was ending even his desire to continue living.”
The Supreme Court supports the arguments established in the first instance by the Criminal Court 4 of Córdoba and later by the Provincial Court: that changing a woman’s job to a place with hardly any defined functions and without resources to work was harassment. A “set of promoted decisions and assumed by the accused, do not forget, the person under whose “direct orders” the victim was “adding that” These are not isolated acts (…) they are part of a process that tends to aimed at dispensing with your services, creating an unattainable employment situation for the worker, to the point of forcing her to leave the company “.
What is workplace harassment?
The ruling reflects how the Supreme Court rejects both the IRCO company’s appeal and that of the convicted person, who is not only convicted of harassment but also for balance your public work as a health inspector of the Junta de Andalucía in Córdoba with working for one of the companies that he had to inspect. A duplicity “totally incompatible with his function as an official of the Junta de Andalucía” which implies that “there is no expressly and formally under any employment or professional relationship with the aforementioned entity, but in a covert manner “.
The defendant and the company appealed, questioning, for example, lack of evidence to demonstrate that he was indeed working for IRCO and also, with the support of the Prosecutor’s Office, that the proven facts cannot be considered harassment. And it is at this point that the criminal court asks not to recognize as harassment “acts that can be explained by the tension that is typical of any employment relationship, built from a hierarchical scheme “but ensuring that, in this case, there is no doubt that the woman was harassed at work until she took her own life.
“A permanent climate of humiliation”
The Supreme at this point throws a dart at the “careless reform“of the Penal Code in 2015 that” has increased the interpretive pitfalls “and understanding that the succession of” repeated acts of a hostile and humiliating nature will be harassment that, without constituting degrading treatment, involve serious harassment of the victim“creating” a permanent climate of humiliation that leads the worker to the loss of his own self-esteem, that turns the daily scene of his work into the place where he has to accept with resignation the vexations imposed by whom he arbitrarily shelters himself in his hierarchy. “
The workplace harassment that can be condemned by criminal means, in this case, for the Supreme Court “implies a cluster of repeated acts of persecution with serious psychological affectation in the worker. These are decisions framed in the prevailing hierarchical position that the superior occupies, generating a hostile and humiliating atmosphere that alters the normality of any labor relationship. They are acts whose imposition tries to be explained in the exercise of the powers of management but which, nevertheless, imply manifestly unnecessary measures from the perspective of the optimal regulation of work “.
The company explains to Cadena SER that they have no comments to make on some facts declared firmly tested and they defend that the only relationship that the convicted person had with the company was because of his friendship with its previous board of directors.