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PUERTO RICO ACT 107 OF SEPTEMBER 7, 2013 - PROHIBITS DISCRIMINATION BASED ON GENETIC INFORMATION

 

Establishes the prohibition of discrimination based on genetic information as Puerto Rico public policy. The Act prohibits the use of genetic information by public and private employer in reaching decisions about all aspects of employment including hiring, pay, work assignments, promotions, terminations, trainings, fringe benefits or any other term or condition of employment.

 

As an exception, use of genetic information is allowed to evaluate petitions of reasonable accommodation where the claimed disability is one that is reflected in the individual's genetic information. Use of genetic information is also permitted to assist the employee in matters related to this own health and wellbeing; or to monitor the genetic materials for the effects of toxic substances in the workplace. Use of genetic information is also allowed when the employee provides free and voluntary authorization or when such monitoring is authorized by a federal or state provision.

 

All employers, employment agencies or unions that hold an employee's genetic information must maintain said information in separate files and treat it as confidential employee records. The Act establishes six narrow exceptions under which the information may be disclosed.

 

The Act prohibits group health plans and insurance companies from denying coverage based only on a person' genetic predisposition to develop a disease. Insurance companies may not require individuals to provide their own or a relative's genetic information or to undergo any genetic test to be eligible for coverage nor may they use genetic information to make decisions regarding benefit coverage.

 

The Act establishes a cause of action in torts for persons discriminated on the basis of genetic discrimination, which would provide triple the damages suffered by the plaintiff.

PUERTO RICO SUPREME COURT INTERPRETS ACT 80 REGARDING REDUCTIONS IN FORCE IN MULTI-PLANT EMPLOYERS

 

In Zoraida Reyes Sánchez v. Eaton Electrical H/N/C Eaton Electrical Las Piedras, 2013 TSPR 108, 189 DPR ____ (October 7,2013), the Puerto Rico Supreme Court reviewed the requirements of Act 80 of May 30, 1976, regarding how an employer must select the affected employees in a reduction in force.

 

The Court reiterated the principle that the employer must select the employees to be laid off in the affected classification according to their seniority with the company as a whole, not seniority in the affected classification, as the plaintiff had claimed.

 

The plaintiff had also alleged that the company was a multi-plant employer that transferred employees between plants as a normal and regular practice and that it operated in an integrated manner regarding personnel matters. She claimed that Eaton should have established a seniority list including employees from all P.R. company plants based on the fact that an Eaton program allows its employees to apply for jobs in any company plant on a worldwide level. Six employees, including the plaintiff, had been transferred to the plant in question. The Court rejected this allegation explaining that while the company program allows employees to apply for job openings, Eaton retains the right to decide whether or not to hire the employee for that opening which does not constitute an employee transfer under Act 80. Moreover, four of the alleged employee transfers came from jurisdictions outside Puerto Rico and the Court concluded that Act 80 does not require an employer to consider international employee transfers under Act 80.

 

The Labor Law Group at Fiddler González & Rodríguez, P.S.C., will issue the FGR LABOR WATCH with information of legal issues and developments in areas of interest to our friends and clients. If you know anyone who would like to receive the FGR LABOR WATCH, please feel free to forward this newsletter. For more information about any matter raised in this Labor Watch, please contact your usual FGR labor lawyer or José A. Silva Cofresí at jsilva@fgrlaw.com.

©2014 FIDDLER GONZÁLEZ & RODRÍGUEZ, P.S.C. Permission is granted to view, store, print, copy or distribute the content of this newsletter for noncommercial or personal use, provided you do not alter it and you give us proper credit. The content of this newsletter is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice or advertising. In addition, the above discussion has been provided in general terms and, therefore, should not be relied upon as legal advice applicable to a specific set of facts and circumstances. Before taking legal action, consult a lawyer you trust. Although we will try to be accurate, you cannot rely on its applicability to your specific problem without consulting your lawyer. Fiddler González & Rodríguez, P.S.C. and the members of the Labor Law Group assume no responsibility to inform you of additional changes in law or any other legal issues related to matters addressed in this email of which we may become aware after the date hereof. This newsletter is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship between you and our firm or any of our attorneys. If we are not already representing you, be mindful that your email communications to any of our lawyers will not be treated as privileged or confidential until you ask us to represent you, we first conduct a conflict of interest search, we agree to represent you and you sign an engagement letter from the law firm.

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