Labor harassment bill approved by legislative committee

A legislative committee approved and sent to the full legislature Tuesday a labor harassment bill that seems to expand greatly the prohibited actions

The measure would cover both public and private workplaces. Although it is supposed to be gender neutral, the summary to the bill said that it is women who as more subject to harassment than men.

The bill was released by the  Comisión Permanente Especial de la Mujer. The text of the measure that is on file at the legislative Web site says that labor harassment includes isolating someone, failing to assign them duties, and to speak to others in their presence without speaking to a presumed victim.

Also prohibited is to keep an employee from going to a work meeting without justification.

The bill sets up an arbitration system after an investigation by three persons, including one trained in workplace harassment.

In determining guilt of a presumed harasser, the bill calls for circumstantial proof if there is no direct evidence.

The law says those found guilty of labor harassment shall be fired. A lot of the administrative work involving a harassment claim is in the hands of the Ministerio de Trabajo.

Employers would have to set up an internal procedure so that complaints can be made

The bill is the work of Mireya Zamora Alvarado, a deputy. who held an administrative post in the legislature.

A summary by the committee said that this bill fills a void in existing harassment legislation. For example, there already are measure against sexual harassment.

Pilar Porras, chairwoman of the committee, said that the actions of harassment include insults, forcing people to do denigrating work incompatible with their knowledge or impossible to do.

The summary also said that there would be room for warnings or suspensions, even though the text says clearly that the penalty is firing.

However, public officials, including local mayors, could not be fired, They would only be admonished.

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