Lizette Vélez-Rivé

Ms. Vélez-Rivé’s practice is focused on representing management in matters of labor and employment law. For over 30 years, she has actively litigated before state and federal courts, as well as quasi-judicial administrative forums such as the Anti-discrimination Unit, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Office of Mediation and Adjudication. In so doing, she has successfully tried cases regarding unjust dismissal, employment discrimination, workmen’s compensation, retaliation, defamation, sexual harassment, and constitutional rights. 

Ms. Vélez-Rivé is also well-versed in wages and hours laws and has ample experience with civil and commercial claims. Her practice also includes the representation of private educational institutions, both religious and secular, in cases regarding discrimination due to disability, institutional abuse, and bullying. Further, Ms. Vélez-Rivé regularly offers seminars to clients and business associations regarding labor and employment law matters, such as proper documentation, disciplinary proceedings, and policies on discrimination, sexual harassment, workplace harassment and domestic violence. Ms. Vélez-Rivé is active in all areas of preventive counseling and constantly strives to provide support to clients for the resolution of employment controversies to avoid litigation. She also assists clients with the development of all applicable employment policies and procedures, and onboarding documents regarding the startup of operations in Puerto Rico.

In a case before the First Circuit Court, Ms. Vélez-Rivé obtained summary judgment in favor of her client, having argued that an employee had failed to establish a prima facie claim under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) in connection with his failure to be promoted, and that the subject employer’s proffered reasons for not promoting the employee were not a pretext for age discrimination. In so finding, the Court held that it was only required to draw reasonable inferences in the employee’s favor, and that his subjective belief as to the “real meaning” behind a manager’s comment “was not a suitable proxy for admissible evidence”. See Arroyo Audifred v. Verizon Wireless, Inc., 527 F.3d 215 (1st Cir. 2008).

In a case filed before the Puerto Rico Federal District Court under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), Ms. Vélez-Rivé effectively argued that the claimant employee was not a “qualified individual with a disability” under the ADA, because his osteoarthritis did not substantially limit his ability to work, insofar it did not preclude him from a broad range of jobs. Additionally, Ms. Vélez-Rivé convinced the Court that employee’s sole requested accommodation, transfer to another position, was not reasonable under the ADA because that position was filled. See Álamo Rodríguez v. Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 286 F.Supp.2d 144 (2003). 

In another federal case, during the discovery process, Ms. Vélez-Rivé learned that the plaintiff had several web pages depicting an active social life and an aspiring singing and modeling career, which directly contradicted her assertions of ongoing mental anguish. Ms. Vélez-Rivé downloaded much of the content in question before informing plaintiff’s counsel that eliminating or altering the websites could be considered spoliation or evidence tampering. When the web pages were deleted shortly thereafter, Ms. Vélez-Rivé requested and obtained a ruling precluding the plaintiff from introducing evidence of ongoing mental anguish, as a sanction due to the spoilation of evidence. See Colón v. Mandara Spa Puerto Rico, Inc., 685 F. Supp. 2d 280 (D.P.R. 2010).

Ms. Vélez-Rivé is one of SCVR’s founding Shareholders and chairs its labor and employment practice. Prior to launching SCVR, she had a well-established private practice focused on labor and employment litigation. She is also a co-author of the first edition of the book “Women Who Lead: Reframing Perspectives”.

  • University of Puerto Rico School of Law (J.D., magna cum laude)
  • Washington University in St. Louis (B.A., French; Minor, Business)
  • Puerto Rico
  • United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico
  • United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit
  • American Bar Association
  • Association of Labor Relations Practitioners
  • Federal Bar Association
  • Puerto Rico Bar Association
  • Pierzchajio v. Northwestern Selecta, Inc., 17-1682 (PAD) (D.P.R. 2019)
  • Colón v. Mandara Spa Puerto Rico, Inc., 685 F. Supp. 2d 280 (D.P.R. 2010)
  • Perez Gutiérrez v. Puerto Rico Tel. Co., KLCE200801709 (TA 2009)
  • Ruiz Rivas v. Puerto Rico Tel. Co., KLAN20080612 (TA 2008)
  • Dávila Colón v. Puerto Rico Tel. Co., KLCE200701885 (TA 2008)
  • Cruz Malavé v. Puerto Rico Tel. Co., KLCE200801190 (TA 2008)
  • Arroyo Audifred v. Verizon Wireless, Inc., 527 F.3d 215 (1st Cir. 2008)
  • Pagán Díaz v. D Group Equities Management Services, Inc., KLCE0701290 (TA 2007)
  • Torres v. Lexington Ins., 237 F.R.D. 533 (D.P.R. 2006)
  • Álamo Rodríguez v. Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 286 F.Supp.2d 144 (2003)
  • Cintrón Parrilla v. Lilly Del Caribe, Inc., 32 F. Supp. 2d 35 (D.P.R. 1998)
  • P.P.D. v. Gobernador III, 135 D.P.R. 916 (1994)