New requirement for employers in Puerto Rico to implement a protocol for the management of sexual harassment in the workplace

On September 28, 2022, Puerto Rico Governor, Pedro R. Pierluisi, signed into law Act No. 82-2022, which amends Act. No. 17-1988, known as “Law to Prohibit Sexual Harassment in the Workplace”. This amendment provides three (3) major changes applicable to the private sector, to wit: (1) includes interns who provide services with or without pay in the definition of employees for the purposes of this Act; (2) requires all employers to adopt a protocol to manage sexual harassment allegations or claims in the workplace which must include specific information detailed in the amendment (ie. provisional measures to protect the claimants or victims, legal references to applicable local and federal laws, instructions on how to contact pertinent agencies, amongst other requirements) and a sexual harassment claim form; and (3) orders the Office of the Women’s Advocate (OPM, by its Spanish acronym) and the Puerto Rico Department of Labor and Human Resources (DTRH, by its Spanish acronym) to create a website to file sexual harassment claims.

The recently approved legislation went into effect immediately after its approval.

Employers should now establish/amend, implement, and promote a sexual harassment protocol that incorporates the information itemized in the amendment and a claim form, which complies with the new requirements. Employers may adopt a model protocol that will be designed by DTRH, nevertheless such model is not available yet and the amendment does not provide a deadline by which the DTRH must make available the model protocol. Employers may also prepare their own protocol, which must comply, as a minimum, with a list of the items required by Act No. 82-2022.

We are available to provide any needed assistance on the revisions of any current sexual harassment policy your company has in order to comply with the newly mandatory sexual harassment protocol and claim form.