According to the Office of the Procurator for Women, the administration of the UPR of Cayey failed to properly address two complaints of sexual harassment. (archive)
The Office of the Ombudsman for Women (OPM) announced to the Cayey Campus of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) its intention to impose fines amounting to $ 50,000 for the disastrous handling of the sexual harassment complaints filed by a professor who ended unemployed after reporting a fellow teacher, as well as a student who has been waiting for more than two years for a response to a complaint also against a teacher.
In both cases, an examiner from the OPM found that the Cayey UPR violated its own protocols against sexual harassment, which it also found lack sufficient guarantees to ensure a proper examination of the complaints. The UPR of Cayey has 20 days from September 29 to show why it believes that the fines are not applicable. The report was provided to El Nuevo Día by sources who prefer not to be identified.
The rector of the UPR of Cayey, Glorivee Rosario, confirmed that she received the notification from the OPM, from which she assured that she will defend herself.
“We will demonstrate the actions that have been taken to enforce our zero tolerance policy against any type of harassment. We reiterate that it has been this administration who has dealt with the matter aired by the teacher in a responsible manner and we were immediately aware, ”Rosario said in written statements, without mentioning the student's case.
One of the fines, of $ 10,000, is for the “poor handling” of a complaint that was filed in March 2016 by the history teacher Carmen de Lourdes Cáez against her colleague, Luis Alberto Lugo, in a case that was reported by this newspaper in May 2019.
Another $ 10,000 is for the “mishandling” of a complaint filed on June 1, 2018 by a student that this newspaper does not identify because it has not received his authorization to disclose her identity. The alleged harasser is also not identified because the investigation has not concluded and there is still no factual determination, although more than two years have passed since the student filed a formal complaint saying that the teacher sexually harassed her.
This unusual delay is the main cause of the fine. The student did not complain to the OPM, but the agency's examiner came across her case while investigating Cáez's complaint.
Another three fines, of $ 10,000 each, are for not training their directors in handling complaints of sexual harassment; for violating a 1998 law that obliges it to have an “adequate and effective” internal procedure to deal with these situations between employees and for not complying with the same statute as regards educational institutions.
“The UPR-Cayey did not comply with its legal obligation to implement the necessary methods to raise awareness and publicize the prohibition of sexual harassment in employment,” says the resolution of the OPM, which is signed by the researcher Nohemí Rodríguez Rose.
Regarding the case of the student, the resolution states: “The institution (UPR de Cayey) did not present evidence from which the activation of precautionary measures could be inferred and the report was not sent to the appointing authority within 15 working days. Finally, the institution did not fulfill its duty to carry out a prompt and thorough investigation ”.
History teacher Carmen de Lourdes Cáez filed a lawsuit against her colleague Luis Alberto Lugo. (Xavier Araujo)
In the case of Professor Cáez, she denounced as soon as, verbally and in writing, an incident in which she accused Professor Lugo of trying to kiss her by force on the mouth during a meeting in the Department of Humanities of Cayey on 16 March 2016. Lugo does not deny having kissed her on the cheek, but assures that it was not against her will. As a result of this incident, the professor was suspended for a semester as part of a stipulation in which he did not acknowledge having harassed Cáez.
When Caéz originally made his complaint, neither the then director of Humanities, Harry Hernández, nor the then dean of Academic Affairs, Raúl Castro, complied with Certification 130, the UPR's internal protocol for cases of sexual harassment, nor did they take measures to protect it. The teacher she said had tried to kiss her by force. Instead, both attempted to mediate informally between Cáez and Lugo.
In November of last year, the UPR announced its intention to sanction Hernández and Castro for mishandling this case. The rector of Cayey said that this process continues its course. Castro has told El Nuevo Día more than once that he complied with the protocols with the Cáez complaint.
It was not until December 2017 that Cáez was properly oriented so that she could formally present her complaint, the OPM report says. In the course of the investigation, Cáez was left without a contract to teach classes for the first time in 18 years, which she attributed to retaliation. The UPR says it was left without a contract due to budgetary considerations.
Meanwhile, also in the course of the investigation, Lugo was given a tenure as a professor, in a process in which several leaders who knew of the sexual harassment complaint against him participated, including the current rector of Cayey, Glorivee Rosario.
After the case was published, Cáez was recruited again in Cayey.
“After so many disappointments in the investigations carried out by the UPR, which even misrepresented information to favor the guilty, I thank the OPM for the effort they put into investigating my case. I hope that the complaints that are presented in cases of sexual harassment or assault are not ignored in the UPR campuses. Not one more victim, ”said Cáez, when El Nuevo Día asked him about the result of the OPM investigation.
Professor Harry Hernández was Carmen de Lourdes Cáez's supervisor when she presented her complaint. They accuse him of not having followed protocol. (archive)
Regarding his case, the resolution of the OMP says: “In the handling of the case there was a lack of activation of precautionary measures, there was a late resolution of the case by not referring it to the corresponding office and mediation attempts not contemplated by Certification 130” .
The OPM resolution says that neither Hernández nor Castro had received training in handling complaints of sexual harassment at the time the event that was the subject of Cáez's complaint occurred. It also maintains that the university administration had not made public the policies of sexual harassment in public and accessible places on the Cayey campus.
In addition, it maintains that the UPR of Cayey did not present evidence that was requested on training related to sexual harassment, nor did it appear to have statistics on how many complaints for this problem had been filed since 2014.
“The UPR does not have an effective and adequate internal procedure to deal with complaints of sexual harassment. The filing of complaints of sexual harassment in small departments is problematic because it depends on the affinity of the professor with the director of the department, which is not convenient for handling complaints, “says the resolution.