Panama: New Law Prohibiting Harassment, Racism and Sexism in the Workplace Mandates Full Compliance by May 16, 2018

by Littler

On February 14, 2018, Law 7, which prohibits sexual harassment, mobbing (bullying), racism and discriminatory practices in all environments, including the workplace and academia, took effect.  Law 7 also establishes liability and penalties for any acts of violence against a person’s honor, dignity, or physical or psychological integrity, and implements public policies aimed to prevent such conduct.  Moreover, the law protects workers’ human rights, regardless of gender or age, and their rights to dignity and respect and to work under equitable conditions.  Employers must be in full compliance under the new law by May 16, 2018.

Law 7 defines sexual harassment and mobbing as any systematic, continuous, or persistent action or omission through which a person suggests, invites, asks, pursues, limits, or restricts the exercise of another person’s rights, impairs their rights, insults or addresses them in a disrespectful manner, or humiliates them in order to obtain sexual favors or to affect the person’s dignity.  This prohibited conduct occurs in situations involving labor exploitation or when an employer denies an individual’s equal employment opportunities, fails to apply the same selection criteria for all candidates, fails to honor the worker’s permanent employment status or general employment conditions, or unfairly discredits the work performed.

Racism is defined as the idea that a particular race is superior to another, and is exemplified through actions such as requiring a prospective candidate to have a “good appearance” to qualify for a specific job position.  Sexism is defined as any attitude or action that undervalues, excludes, over-represents, or creates stereotypes because of the person’s gender. 

Law 7 sets forth a new obligation for employers to implement an appropriate and effective in-house procedure to process and resolve complaints of this nature.  The procedure may be developed and implemented through the internal work regulation approved by the Ministry of Labor, collective bargaining agreements or internal policies. 

Additionally, employers must implement an investigation process for any complaints of conduct covered under this law.  The investigation process must be effective, confidential, and undertaken expeditiously; cannot exceed a three-month period following the receipt of the complaint; and must end with a final written report of the investigation and its results. Furthermore, organizations are required to implement training, counseling, and orientation on the anti-discrimination and anti-harassment law.

Any violations of Law 7 committed by an employer (or the victim’s line supervisor)—whether the organization is a public or private institution, a union or professional association or social organization—is subject to a fine ranging from $550 to $1,000 per violation, notwithstanding the employee’s right to bring a lawsuit against the employer for any damages arising from the organization’s failure to conduct an effective investigation or to remedy the conduct once it has been reported. 

Employer Considerations

Employers have until May 16, 2018 to comply with this new law.  Given the short compliance window, employers with operations in Panama should consider taking the following steps:

  1. Implement appropriate and effective procedures to quickly acknowledge, respond to, and remedy any complaints of sexual harassment, mobbing, racism or discriminatory practices.
  2. Incorporate such new procedures in the internal work regulation approved by Ministry of Labor, collective bargaining agreement and/or internal policies.
  3. As employers are subject to vicarious liability (e.g., if the harassment was committed by the victim’s direct supervisor), organizations should train human resources and supervisory personnel so they can recognize the prohibited conduct and know how to respond to related complaints.
  4. Train human resources personnel to conduct effective investigations and safeguard any evidence that may help the organization defend against a lawsuit.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Littler | Attorney Advertising

Written by:


Littler on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.