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Mexico Develops Steps To Take Seriously Sexual Harassment In The Workplace

Author:Ms Javiera Medina Reza and Matthew R. Capelle
Profession:Littler Mendelson

On September 6, 2012, the Mexican Federal Supreme Court promulgated internal rules that explicitly prohibit harassment in the workplace and establish guidelines for investigating and punishing such conduct. On another front, and in what represents a significant step towards reform in this area, on September 1, 2012, President Felipe Calderon proposed an amendment to Articles 47 and 51 of the Mexican Federal Labor Law (FLL) to include sexual harassment as grounds for termination with cause. Although the Supreme Court rules are only applicable to its employees, they are considered a guidepost to employers on how to prevent and eliminate sexual harassment and bullying in the workplace, and signal a shift in how the legislature will likely reform the FLL to regulate these behaviors in the workplace in Mexico. 

Supreme Court's Definition of Harassment in the Workplace

The Supreme Court rules, published in Administrative Notice III/2012 on the Mexican Daily Official Gazette on July 3, 2012, define workplace harassment as conduct or behavior occurring on one or several instances in the workplace, regardless of the hierarchical relationship between the parties involved, that affect an employee's self-esteem, health, integrity, freedom or safety. The Supreme Court rules prohibit workplace harassment and sexual harassment, providing that such conduct violates the duties of public servants under the Federal Administrative Responsibilities of Public Servers Act because it implies the abuse or improper use of a person's position, rank or authority. Further, the rules provide that such conduct represents a lack of respect and integrity, violates several legal provisions, regulations and administrative norms, and in no way follow the principles of legality, honor, loyalty, impartiality and efficiency that govern public servants.

The rules define workplace harassment as conduct that includes evident, subtle or discreet provocation, pressure, intimidation, exclusion, isolation, mocking, or verbal or physical attacks that cause humiliation, frustration, offense, fear, discomfort or stress to the person being harassed or witnessing harassment of others, which interferes with work performance or causes a negative workplace environment. Further, sexual harassment is defined as conduct or behavior of a sexual nature occurring on one or several instances that affect an individual's self-esteem, health, integrity, freedom and safety, and includes unwanted physical contact,...

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