In August of 2022, the Puerto Rico Office for Women’s Advocacy (Oficina de la Procuradora de las Mujeres) made headlines when it fined a political party in Puerto Rico in the amount of $30,000, in connection with a sexual and workplace harassment claim. Among other findings, the Office for Women’s Advocacy determined that the political organization in question had failed to have protocols and procedures to handle sexual harassment claims.
The above was certainly one of the triggers for the government to amend Law No. 17 of April 22, 1988, better known as the Law to Prohibit Sexual Harassment in the Workplace. Accordingly, On September 27, 2022, Law No. 82 was approved and went into effect immediately.
The major changes introduced by Law No. 82-2022 can be summarized as follows:
1. The protection against sexual harassment is extended to paid or unpaid interns.
2. Employers must adopt a protocol to handle sexual harassment situations in the workplace.
3. Both the Office for Women’s Advocacy and the Puerto Rico Department of Labor will provide technical assistance for the drafting and implementation of this protocol.
The protocol required under Law No. 82-2022 must include, among other measures, the following:
1. A declaration to the effect that sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal.
2. Legal basis.
3. A declaration of purpose to prevent, discourage, and to avoid sexual harassment, as well as a zero- tolerance policy.
5. Designation of those in charge of implementing the protocol, a description of the process to present complaints, and the name and contact information of those receiving complaints.
6. Who can present a complaint and options to do it verbally, in writing, or anonymously.
7. Measures to maintain confidentiality.
8. Antiretaliation provisions.
9. Examples of prohibited conduct.
10. Provisional measures to protect claimants and victims.
11. Other legal remedies available and forums for victims, as well as instructions to contact administrative agencies such as the EEOC, the Puerto Rico Department of Labor, and the Office for Women’s Advocacy.
12. A complaint form to denounce incidents of sexual harassment.
Finally, both the Puerto Rico Department of Labor and the Office for Women’s Advocacy will create an online site with information related to sexual harassment in the workplace and to file online complaints.
The labor and employment law team of AMG will keep all our clients and friends updated and well informed of all the latest developments.