Companies ordered to pay compensation for harassment for misconduct committed by their employees or former employees not only bear the high financial costs of labor suits in which they are involved, but also suffer damage to their reputation and image. Not to mention, of course, the cost of replacing lost talent and removal of employees due to illnesses resulting from the harassment suffered.
Organizations capable of actively managing the work environment, providing effective and efficacious training to their professionals in order to avoid and prevent practices characterized as harassment from occurring and adopting means of penalizing harassers, are able to mitigate the harmful effects of such situations and are better prepared to face them if they happen.
Thus, in order to minimize the financial impacts of harassment, companies have sought ways to obtain from the harassers reimbursement of amounts paid in judgments. This was recently the case with a company in Pernambuco that succeeded in a lawsuit filed against a former manager who committed harassment against his subordinates.
Mentioned in several lawsuits in which compensation for harassment was sought due to bad practices in dealing with subordinates, the former manager was ordered to reimburse the company for half of the amount of damages it was ordered to pay in decisions that have already become final.
The Regional Court of Labor Appeals (TRT) for the 6th Circuit found that, although it is unusual for companies to file an action for reimbursement seeking compensation for the amounts of compensation paid for moral damages caused by misconduct by their employees, there is no doubt that they may be brought. The position of the courts has been that the liability for compensating victims of harassment is not exclusive to the company. The harasser must also answer for the acts he commits.
Thus, companies should be aware that, although actions for reimbursement to obtain compensation is not so common in the labor sphere, review thereof is fully possible, especially in situations of harassment. This action is not intended to eliminate the company's liability for the damage caused to its employees, but rather to demonstrate that those who committed the misconduct that caused the compensation for harassment are as liable as the company, and must therefore financially bear part of the damage.
In addition to the importance of providing training to make employees aware of the severity of harassment practices and the implications of such acts for the company and employees, companies should constantly investigate the occurrence of such practices to demonstrate, by means of evidence, harassment in the workplace. Once these cases have been proven, they should seek appropriate legal assistance to ensure that the harasser is properly held accountable.