On August 6, 2020, the Governor of Puerto Rico signed Law No. 90-2020, also known as the Workplace Harassment Act of Puerto Rico (the "Act"). This new law establishes a vigorous public policy against all types of workplace harassment.
The Act provides a very broad definition of workplace harassment to include repeated conduct that is: malicious, not desired, repetitive and abusive; arbitrary, unreasonable and/or capricious; that falls outside the legitimate interests of the employer's company, against the employee's protected constitutional rights. The malicious conduct may be verbal, written and/or physical, and may be performed by the employer, their agents, supervisors, and/or employees.
The Act also requires employers to take all the necessary measures to eliminate or minimize workplace harassment. Employers are also required to take action to correct any possible harassing behavior in the workplace, create policies and provide adequate training to the workforce. The employer's obligations extend to workplace harassment by third parties if the employer knew or should have known of such conduct and failed to take immediate action to correct the situation.
Employers that demonstrate having taken immediate and appropriate action to correct possible situations will not be liable for damages under the Act. However, the Act creates direct liability for those individuals personally responsible for the illegal harassment.
The Secretary of the Puerto Rico Department of Labor and Human Resources is required to issue within 180 days a set of uniform guidelines for the adoption and implementation of the protocols that employers must follow for handling workplace harassment complaints. Employers will then have a period of 180 days from the date of publication of the guidelines authorized by the Puerto Rico Department of Labor and Human Resources, for the adoption and implementation of the protocols and their proper dissemination in their respective workplaces.
Employers are immediately required to publish the content of the Act in a visible place and to take necessary measures to eliminate or minimize workplace harassment.