Labor Alert (Mexico): Strategies for the prevention and attention of cases of workplace sexual harassment.
By – Lic. Alejandro Pedrin.
How Sexual Harassment Impacts The Workplace.
Sexual harassment in the workplace should be addressed in a timely and effective way, as it has a negative and costly impact on victims and businesses:
- Victim. Victims of sexual harassment are affected in their physical and mental health, causing health disorders, low performance in the workplace and the possibility of resignation or termination of employment, in addition to the possible presence of complaints and claims against the company and its managers.
- Company. Sexual harassment causes deterioration in labor relations in the workplace possibly including loss of trust and the diminished sense of loyalty in the company. Consequently, a decrease in competitiveness and productivity is generated in addition to personnel turnover.
What are the Legal Implications in the Company, Resulting From Inadequate Handling of Sexual Harassment Cases?
In terms of the Mexican applicable law, the inadequate attention to cases of harassment has diverse implications and types of legal liability for the company, its managers and employees, whether due to actions or omissions of its legal representatives and employees with management faculties. Some of such consequences are:
- Labor responsibility (Federal Labor Law). Labor rescission for the alleged harasser; termination of the labor relationship with the company by the victim deriving from lack or inadequate attendance of the case.
- Administrative responsibility (Federal Labor Law). Possible fines for the company by the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare.
- Civil responsibility (Civil Code). The possibility of a lawsuit for moral and punitive damages against the company.
- Criminal responsibility (Criminal Code). Accusations against the alleged harasser and managers for a possible cover-up.
Given these circumstances, companies must prevent these behaviors from occurring in the workplace, focusing on two objectives: (i) prevention of cases from arising, (ii) in the event they arise, be prepared to handle them correctly.
What Should the Company do in Order to Prevent and Attend Cases of Sexual Harassment?
a. Develop a prevention protocol. Set of rules and processes that must be followed. Define the content of a prevention protocol.
- Definition of criteria and policies regarding the intolerance of the company in this type of behavior.
- Determine a confidential and/or anonymous procedure for the presentation of complaints.
- Develop general parameters for the implementation of information and awareness campaigns among employees.
b. Develop a protocol for case care. The manner in which to handle and process a case must be specified. Guarantee protection of the victim and confidentiality. Establish criteria to sanction.
- Establish rules to file criminal complaints and facilitate the process for the employees.
- Train the Human Resources department to process complaints and carry out labor investigations.
- Rely on general rules to assess the seriousness of each case and apply proportional and consistent disciplinary measures.
c. Prepare the Internal Shop Rules. In practice, the criteria and principles in order to attend cases of workplace sexual harassment should be included in the Internal Shop Rules (“ISR“). The ISR must also include the disciplinary measures that are implemented, whether verbal reprimands, progressive discipline measures, suspension or termination of the labor relationship.
d. Training and diffusion. Enforce training for employees to ensure that they have knowledge of what harassment means, in addition to the consequences, as well as inform them about their rights and obligations deriving from these cases.
e. Deploy surveillance policies. The employer is required to verify the occurrence of this behavior in the workplace, and must carefully observe if it takes place and develops protocols.
In case of requiring additional information relating to the implementation of specific strategies for the prevention and attendance to cases of workplace sexual harassment, please contact the partners listed below:
Leobardo Tenorio-Malof | firstname.lastname@example.org
Héctor Torres-López | email@example.com
Alejandro Pedrín | firstname.lastname@example.org
Mauricio Tortolero | email@example.com
Daniel Gancz-Kahan | firstname.lastname@example.org
The intention of this document is to provide a summary of the topic of interest, for informational purposes only. Therefore, this document does not constitute a legal opinion or recommendation, and should only be used as a general guide.