H.V.N. v. EM-M Defensa-FAA and Others

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The plaintiff filed suit against her employer, the Ministry of Defense—Argentine Air Force, seeking damages for sexual harassment and workplace persecution because her supervisor made indecent proposals, threatened her employment if she did not accede to his demands, made sexually explicit comments, and impeded her advancement. The trial court ruled against the plaintiff on the basis that (1) a psychological report indicated that she suffered from “moderate reactive development,” therefore making it impossible to determine the level of fault that corresponded to the alleged hostile conduct or to her “moderate reactive development,” (2) while certain testimony indicated the plaintiff was subject to certain “inconveniences” caused by her supervisor, the court found that these were insufficient to support a claim of sexual harassment or other unlawful conduct and (3) the plaintiff was therefore subject to a higher burden of proof in relation to the alleged conduct and that this burden was not met. In reversing the trial court’s ruling, the appellate court noted that (1) workplace sexual harassment is characterized by extreme psychological violence in the workplace that is both systematic and prolonged and that is carried out for the purpose of devaluing, perturbing, or debasing the victim so that the victim abandons the workplace or accepts other workplace conditions, and (2) particular difficulties arise in proving that the offensive conduct took place. For this reason, the court noted, special importance must be given to testimony given by work colleagues, medical or psychological reports to determine the existence of physical or psychological damage and documentary evidence. Specifically, the appellate court found that the plaintiff presented sufficient witness testimony, documentary evidence and psychological and accounting reports to sustain her claims. In addition to allowing damages, the appellate court ordered the defendants to pay costs.



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