Like much of our justice system, sexual harassment laws in Puerto Rico are a work in progress. This work in progress reached a milestone in August of 2020 when Governor Wanda Vasquez signed off on the “Act to Prohibit and Prevent Workplace Harassment in Puerto Rico,” adding much-needed protection to those most vulnerable in Puerto Rico’s workforce. This act clarifies and builds on previous legislation from the 80s.

 

With that said, new legislation isn’t necessarily a magic wand that can erase major issues like sexual harassment in the workplace, and unfortunately, these cases continue to persist in Puerto Rico. 

 

If you’ve been a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, it’s important to get in touch with a seasoned attorney to help navigate this situation for you. Time is absolutely of the essence in sexual harassment cases. 

 

Puerto Rico’s sexual harassment laws

 

The Act to Prohibit and Prevent Workplace Harassment lays out the guidelines to protect victims from sexual harassment and impose limitations on employers for safe work environments. The act is the umbrella that sexual harassment falls under, and is cited in most sexual harassment cases in the state. 

 

The act focuses on “malicious, unwanted, repetitive and abusive behaviors, whether its verbal, written, or physical.” 

 

Some examples of sexual harassment what could violate the Act to Prohibit and Prevent Workplace Harassment are: 

 

  • Unwanted touching, sexual advances, especially if repetitive and/or the aggressor is aware that it is unwanted
  • Stalking (constant texts, emails, phone calls, following people home)
  • Rude, sexualized comments that create a hostile environment 

 

Examples of what wouldn’t be considered sexual harassment are: 

 

  • Suggestive eye contact
  • Asking someone on a date 
  • Consensual dates, relationships, or sexual relations.

 

Quid-pro-quo sexual harassment

 

One of the most common types of sexual harassment lawsuits are quid-pro-quo sexual harassment cases, whereby an employee is pressured into giving sexual favors in exchange for some sort of tangible job benefit, regardless of whether or not they accept the offer. 

 

If it can be proved that, after a victim turned down a sexual advance, the victim was: 

 

  • Denied a promotion, or raise
  • Demoted
  • Fired, had their hours cut

 

Then the victim likely has grounds for a quid-pro-quo type of sexual harassment lawsuit in Puerto Rico.

 

Requirements for employers

 

Employers are not required, but recommended to conduct employee training on workplace harassment, and have protocols in place for when sexual harassment allegations arise. They are also recommended to have handbooks, posters, or conduct codes to make sure the rules are concrete enough to be followed. 

 

Under Puerto Rico’s Act 90, employers are required to conduct investigations of all allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace. 

 

Have you experienced sexual harassment in the workplace? 

 

If you’ve been a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace in Puerto Rico, know that you have laws to protect you. Attorneys are waiting to assist you across the state, from San Juan to Mayagüez.

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