High court says woman’s word strong evidence in harassment

The Sala Secunda of the Corte Suprema de Justicia has upheld the firing of an unidentified male nurse in a sexual harassment case.

The Sala is the final word on labor cases. In its ruling, the court said that the word of a victim is strong evidence in such cases.

Rarely, the court said in a summary issued by the Poder Judicial, are there direct proofs in such cases that show the actions of an aggressor.

In the case at hand, the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social fired the nurse after an investigation as to treatment of a female subordinate. The agency did so without what is known
as responsibilidad patronal or without paying a sum of money for the dismissal. The nurse sued to win back his job and to get severance pay. A court in Alajuela agreed. Then the state took the case to an appeals court, which also ruled for the nurse.
The lower courts appear to have been influenced by the lack of direct evidence.

The Sala Secunda said that there were elements of proof in the time, place and the description of the acts. The woman repeated her story without contradictions or modifications, said the court. A telling fact also was a telephone call made by the male nurse to the employee early in the morning at a time the court decided there was no business reason for the contact.

The employee also had support for her story from what was described as a health professional, presumably a psychologist.

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