Law Providing Unpaid Leave and Reasonable Accommodation for Victims of Abuse Enacted

New Legislation Enacted

Act No. 83 of August 1, 2019, (Act 83) provides up to 15 days of unpaid leave, and/or reasonable accommodation, for employees who are themselves victims of abusive situations, or have a close family member who is. Additionally, it prohibits adverse actions and/or discrimination against the employee for partaking in this type of leave or reasonable accommodation. This is a detailed leave act that imposes several specific requirements on the employee as well as the employer, including an obligation for the employer to update its policies and procedures and to train employees regarding this leave. Employers that fail to comply with Act 83 may be subject to penalties of up to $5,000, as well as damages, including back pay.

Supreme Court Holds Act 2’s Counterclaim Bar Does Not Preclude Employer’s Independent Suit

Precedential Decision by Judiciary or Regulatory Agency

On July 26, 2019, the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico held that the express language of Puerto Rico’s Summary Procedure Act (Act 2), barring employer’s counterclaims, does not preclude a separate and independent action against the employee. The Supreme Court reasoned that Act 2’s counterclaim bar may promote judicial efficiency in employment claims, but the Act itself does not create or eliminate causes of action. The opinion then addressed the possibility of parallel litigation, and highlighted the ample procedural flexibility of trial courts under Act 2. This opinion clarifies that an employer may still pursue any possible claims it may have against the employee, even when defending itself under Act 2’s summary procedure.