The Senate of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico has approved a bill prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in the public and private sectors. Senate Bill No. 238 includes an amendment to Puerto Rico’s Anti-Discrimination Statute, Act No. 100 of June 30, 1959, as amended, barring employers from discriminating against any employee or employment candidate on the basis of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.

As with currently protected categories (such as race, color, sex, marital status and social condition), an employee or applicant for employment who is a victim of discrimination may be entitled to reinstatement and to a sum equal to twice the amount of damages sustained on account of discrimination prohibited under the Bill. An individual who commits a discriminatory act could be charged with a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction, could be punished by a fine of up to $5,000 or by imprisonment in jail for a term not greater than 90 days, or by both, at the discretion of the court.

The House of Representatives is expected to consider and approve the Bill. Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro García Padilla has stated he will sign the Bill if approved by the Legislature.