The last National Survey on Disability conducted by the National Institute of Statistics and Informatics (INEI), published in 2014, shows that 1,575,402 people have some kind of disability in our country. According to figures published by INEI, this number accounts for 5.2% of Peru’s population. And from the total number of people having some kind of disability, 277,882 form part of the Economically Active Population who is currently employed.
The Political Constitution of Peru of 1993 affords special protection to people with disabilities and provides that they “have a right to respect for their human dignity and to a legal regime of protection, care, rehabilitation and safety”. Although with some delay, actually twenty years after the entry into force of the Constitution, Law N° 29973, General Law for People with Disabilities, approved by the entire Congress, was published on December 13, 2012. Then, on April 7, 2014, the Executive published the Regulations under the General Law for People with Disabilities, approved by Supreme Decree N° 002-2014-MIMP.
As we can see, despite the delay, we can see now that the State is making efforts to afford appropriate protection to people with disabilities. The Judiciary, through the Supreme Court of Justice, has not been an exception and has contributed to the effort by guaranteeing effective judicial protection to workers with disabilities. Specifically, it has allowed extending the territorial jurisdiction of labor judges to include the domicile of people with disabilities.
In connection with Cassation Appeal N° 4553-2011-LIMA, the Supreme Court of Justice resolved that when a worker has a disability which prevents him/her from physically traveling to the jurisdiction where the employer is domiciled, then it is possible for the worker to file suit in the jurisdiction where he/she is domiciled. This decision is an exception to the provisions set forth in Article 6 of Law N° 29497, New Procedural Labor Law (hereinafter the NLPT), which provides that “a Judge who has jurisdiction over the domicile of the defendant or over the place where the services were provided is competent to hear the case”.
We believe that the Supreme Court has made a wise decision, as it guarantees the effective force of the principle of socialization of the proceeding contemplated in Article III of the Preliminary Title of the NLPT. This principle provides that in all labor proceedings, the judge must prevent any inequality between the parties from affecting the processing or outcome of the proceeding. In the specific case of Cassation Appeal N° 4553-2011-LIMA, it has been possible to guarantee and afford effective judicial protection to a person with a disability who had suffered a work-related accident at the workplace and in this way contribute little by little to have the protection regime contemplated by the Constitution become a reality.