Excessive affectionThe Seoul High Court recently issued a bizarre ruling. The court admitted that the branch manager at a credit card company habitually sexually harassed female employees but ruled that he does not deserve to be fired. The court kindly explained that the man in question was expressing his affection for coworkers and trying to cheer them up.
The wrongdoer hugged female employees, kissed them on the ear and touched their buttocks. He often called the employees, asking them to visit his house when he was alone. It is very doubtful that the court made the right decision when it interpreted these behaviors as harmless expressions of affection. The court’s reasoning that he was acting to cheer up female employees is also dubious.
Only two out of the eight female employees agreed with the court’s decision. He even met with female employees and tried to persuade them to keep quiet about his behavior. It is difficult for subordinates to file a criminal complaint against a boss with whom they share a workplace.
The court tried to protect him, claiming that dismissal was excessive punishment, but did not pay enough attention to the suffering and pain of the victims. There is no guarantee that he would not harass the victims again if he comes back to his office.
In most sexual harassment cases, the ones who quit their job are not the offenders but the victims.
He habitually harassed the victims. There is no guarantee that he would not do the same thing again after the court ruled that his behavior was an appropriate expression of affection.
The court’s decision should be respected. However, we cannot stop wondering about whether the decision took the shame and mental suffering of the victims into consideration.