Puerto Rico recently became the first US jurisdiction to outlaw all workplace bullying and harassment, regardless of whether the behavior relates to a protected characteristic, and to require all employers to adopt policies and to provide employees with education and guidance to prevent workplace bullying and harassment. See Puerto Rico Act 90-2020 and Guidelines on Workplace Harassment in Puerto Rico’s Private Sector, issued Feb. 3, 2021 (Spanish).
The Act to Prohibit and Prevent Workplace Harassment in Puerto Rico (“Act”) applies to all employers and prohibits bullying or harassment of any employee. Importantly, the term “harassment” is not limited to behavior that relates to protected characteristics, such as race, gender, and religion. Instead, harassment is broadly defined to include, for example:
using profanity while making disparaging remarks about an employee,
disparaging and humiliating comments about an employee’s professional qualifications in the presence of others, and
making humiliating comments about an employee’s work proposals or opinions.
To comply with the new law, all employers with employees in Puerto Rico must (a) adopt a policy, (b) post a notice, and (c) provide education and guidance on the new prohibition against harassment and bullying and the employer’s policy prohibiting such conduct.
Additionally, EEOC guidelines and court decisions from around the country have made clear that employers should provide workplace harassment training to all employees periodically. The training should cover sexual harassment and all other forms of unlawful harassment related to federal and state-protected characteristics.
For more information on Puerto Rico equal employment opportunity requirements, visit www.trabajo.pr.gov (Spanish).