Law 1010, 2006 regulates the protection for victims of labor harassment that denounce behaviors or conducts at the work place such us: assault, aggression, humiliation, inconsiderate and offensive treatment or outrage.
The law includes a special protection in favor of the victim that denounces harassing conducts. According to the mentioned protection, the victim of harassment who has started a preventive procedure to overcome a labor harassment conduct cannot be unilaterally terminated by the employer within six months counted as from the filing of the request or complaint.
Please note that this special protection is intended to avoid any retaliatory actions against the victim of harassment.
The protection of six months is very useful, especially if an employee has been already harassed and if the harassment actions come from a superior. This, since it is highly probable that the hierarchical superior takes retaliatory actions to dismiss the employee or to motivate the employee´s resignation. However, the law does not regulate the situation after six months of presenting the complaint which does not impede that the aggressors continue with their harassing behaviors in the future.
The complaint of the victim of harassment can be presented internally before the Labor Environment Committee (“Cómite de Convivencia Laboral”) which companies must have duly constituted or before a labor authority (Ministry of Labor or Labor Court). In both cases the victim will be covered with the abovementioned legal protection.
Even though the Law promotes in different ways a respectful and friendly behavior in the workplace, it would be helpful to create special benefits or mechanisms for companies and employees that prevent and attack harassment behaviors.
Regarding other legal protections, the Ministry of labor has created a hotline that allows employees denouncing any breach of labor obligations. For example, on 2013, the Ministry of Labor received 2.524 from individuals that sought orientation regarding labor harassment. According to the statistics of the Ministry of Labor, the complaints requesting investigations for harassment have declined 70% in 2013. Additionally, the Ministry of Labor received 353 complaints related to harassment (173 by man, 175 by woman, 2 by anonymous and 3 by unions), while in 2012 it received 1220.
One wonders if the decrease in the complaints shows progress in this regard or if victims are afraid to denounce.
It is a fact that the current guaranties are not good enough to protect employees. The vast majority of the victims of any kind of breach -including harassment- usually do not report these situations, mainly because they i) do not know about the existence the protections that cover them, ii) feel fear of reporting the breaches, iii) feel fear of being conceived as difficult persons, and iv) in case of harassing conducts, because they feel uncertainty after the expiration of the six months counted as from the presentation of the claim.