Despite the many similarities between the U.S. and Puerto Rico, the two countries are very apart when it comes to employment law and workplace culture. For more than twenty years I have worked with U.S. based employers to bridge this gap with the following services:
Legal Advice Employment & Labor matters
Counsel and advice to businesses on a wide range of employment issues pertaining Puerto Rico and Federal Law. From establishing operations in Puerto Rico to restructuring, closing or transfer of business.
Collaboration with employers to develop policies and procedures to prevent employment claims. I also provide support in internal investigations and compliance audits. Areas include wage & hour where I assist employers in determining whether employees are exempt from minimum wage and overtime requirements.
Privacy, Trade Secrets, Unfair Competition
Support & guidance for employers to protect themselves by auditing existing processes and developing comprehensive trade secret protection programs through tailored procedures and employment and confidentiality agreements; covenants not to compete and non-disclosure clauses, where permitted by law. Puerto Rico has specific regulations pertaining to contractual restrictions on competition and trade secrets.
All employers must obtain workmen compensation insurance from the Puerto Rico State Insurance Fund Corporation. This insurance provides compensation to employees for work-related accidents or conditions, including occupational diseases. A covered employer is not subject to suits for employment-related accidents. The Compensation System for Work-Related Accidents Act protects the employee’s right to reinstatement for 12 months after an accident. It is the duty of every employer to insure his or her employees against all work-related injuries, illnesses or death with the Fund. I work with employers to assure full compliance with the Fund and thus avoid costly liability issues.
Executive Employment Key Man Contracts
Close collaboration with clients to structure and negotiate favorable terms in critical employment contracts pertaining to key individuals; whether it be in sales, IT, filling an executive role or working out the details of a promotion from within the company; guidance and legal representation in enforcing contracts to the extent permitted by law.
Wrongful Discharge – Termination
An employee hired for an indefinite term who is discharged without just cause is entitled to severance pay. The amount varies depending on the salary and years of employment. Given that the employer has the burden to show cause, it is common for terminated employees to file wrongful discharge claims. All clients receive comprehensive legal assistance to clients in aggressively defending employment claims.
Proceedings before the Department of Labor of Puerto Rico
The Puerto Rico Department of Labor and Human Resources is the primary government agency charged with establishing and implementing employment law on the island. In addition, the Secretary of Labor has the duty to investigate every complaint alleging the violation of any labor-protecting laws such as wage & hour, discrimination, wrongful discharge, meal periods, Christmas bonus and many others. Clients receive comprehensive advise and full representation on all investigations initiated by the Department.
Legal defense in State & Federal Courts
See Litigation tab
Training on legal issues
Seminars and lectures for private clients and professional organizations. Past seminars sponsors include the National Business Institute, Puerto Rico Bar Association, Inter American University School of Law, Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce, Puerto Rico Manufacturers Association and the Food & Marketing Association. Topics include:
- Sexual harassment under PR and USA law
- Domestic Violence under PR law
- Progressive & corrective discipline
- Wrongful discharge
- Confidential information, non-competes
- Compliance, prevention and solutions.
- Workplace violence
- Leaves of absence under federal and state laws
- Legal trends
- Judicial developments
- General legal compliance
Representative work as employment counsel includes:
- Providing legal counsel on specific employment issues for professional organizations and institutions such as the Puerto Rico Manufacturing Association, Food Marketing Association of Puerto Rico (MIDA), the Small and Medium Business Association of Puerto Rico and the Ponce & Southern Chamber of Commerce.
- Due diligence for large food manufacturing an distribution company acquiring a food processing facility.
- Provided advise, specific strategies an drafting of legal agreements for a large cosmetics corporation in a reduction in force and subsequent plant closing.
- Preparation affirmative action plans for federal contractors.
- Counseled a San Juan based bank on employment matters pertaining to the acquisition of another bank.
- Counseled board of directors of a San Juan based insurance company regarding continued employment of key executives.
- Structured employment contracts for highly compensated employees and c-level executives for several financial institutions.
- Assisted numerous employers in creating job descriptions in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and other employment laws.
- Assisted numerous employers in structuring leave policies in compliance with Family Medical Leave Act and worker compensation statutes.
- Assisted numerous employers in preparing rules of conducts, search and inspection policies, drug testing programs and sexual harassment policies.
- Provided on-site training on employment issues to management of hospitals and hotels.
- Preparation of non-compete and confidentiality agreements for executives of various industries.
- Provided counseling and strategic solutions to a services company dealing with workers suspected of embezzling company funds.
- Workplace investigations regarding harassment, theft, violence.
- 23+ years’ experience in litigation and trials. Have litigated to conclusion thousands of administrative, state and federal claims, including over thirty-five bench trials on issues such as wrongful discharge, age discrimination, ERISA, sexual harassment, ADA, COBRA, retaliation, sex discrimination, wage & hours, contracts, tort-insurance among other claims; and favorably concluding matters in the vast majority of cases. Please refer to the commercial litigation section for additional information.