The court of Labor Chamber N ° 3 of the Superior Court of Justice of Entre Ríos found Judge Juan José Ardoy – in charge of Labor Court N ° 3 of the City of Concepción del Uruguay – guilty of the crime of sexual and labor violence against a judicial employee who had denounced her boss for harassment.
The forcefulness of the complaint and the evidence presented before the STJER, added to the recognition of the abuser, led the court to find him guilty. However, instead of initiating a jury for his displacement and protecting the victim, they chose to give him a month’s suspension without pay and to carry out training on gender issues within the framework of the Micaela Law, something that is Mandatory for agents of the three powers of the State.
“I have little expectation that justice will be served, but I still feel that it is worth not keeping silent, even when the very system in which I work is rooted in the foundations of patriarchy,” said the victim. In Entre Ríos there is a precedent and this is the case of the Gualeguay Justice of the Peace, Eduardo Salem, who after the jury dismissed the magistrate for exercising violence, mistreatment and harassment against two employees of that court. But in this case, despite all the evidence, the jury process has not been initiated, which could imply protection for the harassing judge.
The denounced and proven facts began in 2017, when the victim was running for the position of head of the office, on which occasion she began to suffer advances of a sexual nature from Ardoy through comments during the work day and messages text by cell phone. Even prior to the examination – she being the only applicant for that position – the judge proposed that she meet to discuss the functions of the future position.
The judge formulated these proposals verbally and also through messages that appear in the case, and where it was clearly demonstrated how he offered to benefit her in the contest by anticipating the questions of the contest, in exchange for her accepting his sexual proposals, he even told her about the possibility of occupying the position of secretary, always in exchange for agreeing to their requests.
Faced with the constant rejection of Judge Ardoy’s advances, sexual harassment turned into mistreatment and workplace harassment. The STJER Interdisciplinary Technical Team that intervened in the case – made up of the psychiatrist Javier Ramírez Arduch and the psychologists Virginia Bravo and Silvia Ermácora – was categorical. In the report they stated: “It is worth noting the prolonged time in which Ms. X was subjected to different forms of violence in the workplace, since it was not a single event but multiple situations that, repeatedly, they constitute a single situation of gender violence in the workplace, mainly psychological, symbolic and sexual, to the detriment of their work and personal situation ”.
Who does justice protect?
The particular form of sexual violence in the workplace includes practices and threats that seek to cause physical, psychological, sexual or economic harm if the “demand” of the perpetrator is not acceded. It is also clear in Argentine jurisprudence that the person who must be separated from their workplace is the one who causes the damage, if this crime occurs in the workplace.
However, the STJER decided to keep Ardoy in his position, suspend his fees for a month, and send him to receive training in the Micaela Law.
“I lost my job for which I had applied, since at the time of the complaint I was transferred to a Family Court to preserve myself and continue to provide my tasks,” said the victim, who nevertheless admits that “the measure limits the reservation of my position as Head of the Office only to the labor jurisdiction, thus preventing me from having the possibility of acceding to occupy said position in other jurisdictions, nor does it contemplate the possibility of being appointed in the place where I was temporarily assigned, in the event of a vacancy “, explained.
The interdisciplinary team of the STJER also maintained that “it is possible to consider the current situation in which the complainant finds herself, who, being a victim of violence, is withdrawn from her work environment and referred to another workplace, although it is understood that this It results from a provisional measure in order to safeguard their psychophysical integrity, the continuity of this measure in the long term could have negative consequences for their mental health, since it is understood as a punishment or consequence derived from having denounced… ”.
At the time of being interviewed by this team, Ardoy referred to being aware of having incurred in an inappropriate attitude such as “misconduct” characteristic of his cultural structure, preparing to apologize, making himself available for institutional spaces where the actors involved in the framework of the law Micaela.
The professionals’ report indicates that after interviewing the judge, he acknowledged “having made a mistake as a man in relation to what happened with Mrs. X., both personally and in the labor context” and it is Ardoy himself, the one who admits that he is undergoing psychiatric treatment, that he has been prescribed drug treatment, “because he got in a bad mood and irascible.”
The Comprehensive Protection Law to prevent, punish and eradicate violence against women in the areas in which they develop their interpersonal relationships –Law 26,485- establishes as workplace violence those actions that discriminate against women in public or private work environments and that hinders their access to employment, hiring, promotion, stability or permanence in it, demanding requirements on marital status, maternity, age, physical appearance or the performance of a pregnancy test. Violence against women in the workplace is also violating the right to equal pay for the same task or function. Likewise, it includes the systematic psychological harassment of a certain worker in order to achieve her exclusion from work.
Labor violence constitutes a violation of the right to just and satisfactory working conditions and this violation is the expression of social and labor discrimination, the manifestations of which are, for example, low expectations for professional advancement, undervaluation of jobs and work activities assigned to female stereotypes.
These acts of violence are also an example of symbolic violence in the workplace, which can have effects not only on health but also on the confidence, morale and performance of the people who suffer it, with highly damaging consequences. for the privacy and dignity of the person, as well as for the work environment.