Supreme Court Of Puerto Rico Reaffirms That Violence In The Workplace Justifies First Offense Termination
In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico recently reaffirmed its previous position that an act of aggression by an employee towards a coworker is sufficient to establish just cause for termination under Puerto Rico's Unjustified Dismissal statute, Act No. 80 of May 30, 1978 (Act 80), even when the aggression is a first-time offense. After granting the employer's petition for a writ of certiorari, the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico reversed the appellate court's decision, holding that the termination was supported by just cause. This reasoning was echoed by the concurring opinion, which cautioned that courts should not approach such cases as if they were human resources departments instead of courts of law. Although this case deals with workplace violence, its reasoning may be extrapolated to other serious offenses warranting immediate termination.