Chamber must vote tomorrow OAB suspension of lawyers for harassment

Tomorrow (2) is scheduled for a vote in plenary of the Chamber of Deputies on the bill that includes the possibility of suspending the professional activity of lawyers accused of sexual and moral harassment. Today, as there is no such provision in the list of ethical infractions of the Statute of Advocacy, punishment can only come through judicial conviction, not in an administrative process. In other words: the lawyer who commits to the practice can continue to exercise the profession, even if he responds judicially to the accusation.

In March of this year, the OAB (Ordem dos Advogados do Brasil) approved the inclusion of moral and sexual harassment against women in the list of ethical infractions of the Statute of Advocacy, a law from 1994. The suggestion was sent to the National Congress, which was transformed in bill. If the proposal is approved by the House, it will proceed to the Senate.

According to data presented in March by counselor Carlos José Santos da Silva, “just over 50% of companies, offices and members of the Judiciary are taking measures to prevent, or adequately respond to, misconduct. Only one in five workplaces provided training on recognizing and reporting problems in these areas”.

In March 2022, the OAB created a channel for reporting harassment against female lawyers. Since then, 30 cases have been registered. Among the complaints, 11 are for sexual harassment and nine for moral harassment. In five cases, neither type of harassment is characterized.

The cases are confidential, but the column gained access to the content of the accusations. In one of them, a lawyer would have pulled the victim’s beautiful arm with force, “hurting her and tried to kiss her forcibly”. Another lawyer reported “abusive conduct by a lawyer in a law firm”, which would have embarrassed her “with questions about her sex life and made insinuations about it”.

A public lawyer claims to have been embarrassed by a co-worker who tried to force physical contact and sent her inappropriate messages on her social networks”. Another complaint states that the boss would have criticized the lawyer, “calling her nervous and temperamental” for being a woman.

In another case, a lawyer says that a court official called her incompetent and “refused to carry out the necessary changes in her cases”.

According to the president of the National Commission for Women Lawyers of the OAB, Cristiane Damasceno, there is underreporting of the accusations, because women are afraid to denounce the practice and suffer professional or personal retaliation. “Women submit and remain silent because they need to work and move up the career ladder”, says Cristiane.

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