Employers or managers of workplaces in Costa Rica must guarantee public access to an updated record of their workers with firm penalties, criminal or administrative, for conduct related to sexual harassment.
The registry would be regulated with a new reform to the “Law against Sexual Harassment in Employment and Teaching”, whose final wording was only approved in the first debate in the National Legislative Assembly on November 19th.
The registry would have to protect the victim’s information and would only include sanctions with less than 10 years of antiquity, to also guarantee the “right to be forgotten”, recognized internationally.
According to the text of the Law, the information could “be consulted by any interested person.” The text adheres to the employer’s obligation in article number 5. This establishes that each labor manager has different “prevention responsibilities”, among them maintaining the basic conditions of respect for those who work in the company, through “an internal policy that prevents, discourages, avoids and punishes sexual harassment behaviors”.
Specifically, the law orders to communicate about the existence of an institutional or business policy against sexual harassment, establishes internal procedures to deal with related complaints and maintain personnel with experience in the prevention of harassment or sign agreements to comply with the scope of the law.
The bill to add the fourth responsibility – the public record of sanctions – was approved in the first debate unanimously, with the support of 40 legislators. The second debate was scheduled for this November 26th; however, the discussion of the 2021 national budget prevented getting the final debate.
This initiative was proposed since June 12th, 2019 by legislator José María Villalta, from the Frente Amplio (FA). At that time, he argued that the text would serve to prevent cover-ups of harassers, after the media and college students published complaints about experiences of sexual harassment in schools.
“Our sexist society has always wanted to hide sexual harassment behaviors in the private sphere, minimizing its seriousness and no more. The need for transparency is urgent to prevent new attacks and protect the rights of people who could become new victims”.
“The recent cases reported within public universities show that this is not a new problem, but rather that it has been hidden under bureaucratic excuses that harm people’s rights. The highest interest of institutions and workplaces should be to protect the victims and prevent further attacks”, stressed the deputy at that time.
To achieve this objective, the project also indicated that the information regarding sanctions for harassment will be made publicly available, after they are final, “including the identity of the persons sanctioned.”
To carry out the vote on the definitive text, the initiative would now have to be convened by President Carlos Alvarado as of this coming December, when the period of extraordinary sessions begin, in which the National Executive will define the Legislative agenda for the next several months.