Without much media attention, Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro García Padilla has vetoed legislation prohibiting conduct considered workplace harassment or “workplace bullying.”
Governor García Padilla did not explain his veto of Senate Bill 501, “Law to Prohibit and Prevent Workplace Harassment in Puerto Rico,” on June 13, 2014. Rather, he cited opinions issued by the Puerto Rico Departments of Justice and Labor and Human Resources withholding endorsement of the legislation. The Department of Justice noted the bill’s definition of “workplace harassment” was “vague” and its delegation of rulemaking authority to various agencies, the DOJ warned, would lead to inconsistencies. The Department of Labor observed the bill excluded private sector employees from reinstatement and back pay remedies, the Governor said.
The Governor pointed out that, employees who are victims of workplace harassment can still seek the protections guaranteed by the Puerto Rico Constitution, collective bargaining agreements, and remedies in tort provided by the Puerto Rico Civil Code. Supporters of a workplace harassment law in Puerto Rico are not abandoning their efforts and legislation on this issue likely will be reintroduced.