Bill penalizes workplace discrimination

Discrimination against one’s race, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation or national origin in the workplace shall be punished by up to P1 million in fine or imprisonment, under a proposed House bill.

House Bill 532 titled “Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 2018” authored by equality advocate and Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman imposes the penalty of six months imprisonment and fine of P400,000 or both to employees who discriminate against co-workers for the first time.

Second-time offenders shall be punished with a year in jail or a fine of up to P600,000 while third-time offenders face up to three years in prison or a fine of up to P1 million or both.

A penalty of closure of business can also apply once proven that employees failed or refused to hire or discharge someone because of their race, religion, disability and sexual orientation.

HB 532 also creates an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission tasked with resolving unlawful employment practices or discrimination cases.

The commission composed of a chairperson and 14 members will be attached to the Department of Labor and Employment solely for program and policy coordination.

“The State affirms labor as a primary social economic force. It shall protect the rights of workers and promote their welfare,” Roman said in the bill’s explanatory note.

Roman stressed that despite anti-discrimination laws in place, discrimination continues to be a problem, and that action must be taken to address it.

According to the solon, equal opportunity is a “state of fairness in which individuals are treated similarly, unhampered by artificial barriers, prejudices or preferences, except when particular distinctions can be explicitly justified.”

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