Term to File Appeal in Summary Procedure Employment Cases Shortened

On August 6, 2014 the Governor of Puerto Rico signed yet another piece of legislation that affects the interests of employers in the Island.   By signing Law 133 of 2014, the Governor approved the latest amendment made to the summary procedure for employment cases under Law 2 of 1961, which already substantially limits an employer’s defense in employment cases by setting forth a shorter term for answering the complaint with a mandatory default clause, limits discovery to either an interrogatory or a deposition and prohibits amendments to the employer’s responsive pleading.

Under recently approved Law 133, appeals to either an entry of default or judgment on the merits of the case by the trial court will be subject to a 10 day term.  Moreover, appeals from a judgment of the Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico, will be due in 20 days.   Previously, appeals from the trial court on cases heard on the merits were subject to the standard 30 day period under our local Civil Procedure Rules and subject to tolling through a motion for reconsideration or for additional findings of fact.   As a result of this law, employers will now have only 10 days to appeal any judgment by the trial court to the Court of Appeals.   Also, the term of appealing a judgment from the Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court, which was not addressed in the prior version of Law 2, has been reduced from 30 to 20 days.

Finally, Law 133 punishes an employer who acts with malice during the course of a case. The law was amended to allow a Court to impose a penalty or award damages in no less than $500 if it finds that an employer acted with malice in furtherance of delaying a case. Likewise, if a Court of Appeals finds that an employer filed an appeal to adjourn the execution of a judgment, it could indemnify the employee with no less than $1,000.

If you have any questions about or wish to discuss further, please contact the Chair of our Labor & Employment Practice, Gerardo Hernandez at ghernandez@estrellallc.com or Yasthel Gonzalez at gonzalez@estrellallc.com at your convenience.