On September 28, 2022, Act 17 of April 22, 1988 -known as the Act to Prohibit Sexual Harassment in the Workplace (“Act 17”)- was amended by Act 82-2022. In this article we briefly discuss three (3) of the most significant changes included in the amendment:
- Act 17 protections will now apply to employees who work as interns, whether paid or unpaid.
- Employers are required to adopt a detailed protocol to manage situations of sexual harassment in the workplace.
- A governmental online portal was established to provide information about sexual harassment.
Although Act 17 already required employers to adopt a protocol to manage situations of sexual harassment in the workplace, it shall now contain additional requirements, such as:
- Declaration against sexual harassment in the workplace and purpose.
- Legal basis, definitions.
- Appointment of personnel in charge of sexual harassment matters.
- Description of the process for filing complaints if the employer has more than five (5) employees.
- Confidentiality measures.
- Retaliation provisions.
- Provisional protective measures available for complainants.
- Information regarding other legal remedies and forums for victims.
- Complaint form for employees to report incidents of sexual harassment.
The Puerto Rico Women’s Advocate Office (“PRWAO”) and the Puerto Rico Department of Labor and Human Resources (“PRDOL”) were designated to provide advice to employers on the preparation and implementation of this protocol and to ensure its compliance.
Act 82-2022 also required the establishment of an informative online portal that will be managed by the PRWAO and the PRDOL. In addition to providing information related to sexual harassment, this online portal can be used to file sexual harassment complaints, which will be investigated and adjudicated by the PRWAO or the PRDOL.
As a result of the amendment, it is important that employers review and modify their internal procedures, protocols, guidelines and handbooks, and provide training to employees regarding the new revisions.
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