October 28, 2021

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Puerto Rico Senate Passes Reasonable Accommodation Bill for Certain Workers during COVID-19 Pandemic

The Puerto Rico Senate has approved unanimously Senate Bill No. 1577 (SB 1577), which seeks to amend Section 9 of Puerto Rico Act No. 44 of July 2, 1985, known as the “Law Prohibiting Discrimination Against Disabled Persons,” to expand its protection and confer certain type of employees the right to a reasonable accommodation in the workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic. The House of Representatives is considering the bill.

SB 1577 would give employees the right to request a reasonable accommodation if the employee has a disease or health condition identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the Department of Health as one that increases the individual’s risk of becoming seriously ill or dying if they contract COVID-19.

Among covered employees are those over 65 years old, suffering from asthma, HIV, diabetes, chronic pulmonary disease, serious heart conditions, chronic kidney disease and undergoing dialysis, severe obesity, liver disease, or are immunocompromised.

SB 1577 establishes that a reasonable accommodation could include providing additional protective equipment (i.e., gloves and masks), social distancing guarantees, and telework, among others.

If enacted, SB 1577 would also grant employees the right to request a reasonable accommodation if they are legal custodians of children under 14 years old while their school is closed because of the pandemic. Under this scenario, a reasonable accommodation could be to allow employees to telework, if possible.

SB 1577 provides that any reasonable accommodation granted will cease upon agreement between the employee and employer or when the pandemic has officially ended.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2021National Law Review, Volume X, Number 135
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About this Author

Juan Felipe Santos, Employment Attorney, Jackson Lewis Law Firm
Office Managing Principal and Office Litigation Manager

Juan Felipe Santos is the Office Managing Principal and Office Litigation Manager in the San Juan, Puerto Rico, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He has successfully represented employers in litigation before federal and Puerto Rico courts, including jury trials. Before joining Jackson Lewis when it opened the Puerto Rico office in 2013, Mr. Santos worked for over 10 years in other major law firms in Puerto Rico, devoting his practice exclusively to labor and employment law.

Mr. Santos represents clients through all phases and types of federal and local labor and...

787-522-7315
Sara Colón-Acevedo, Jackson Lewis, wage hour lawyer, employment discrimination attorney, puerto rico courts legal counsel, administrative forum law
Shareholder

Sara E. Colón-Acevedo is a Shareholder in the San Juan, Puerto Rico, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Her practice concentrates in employment discrimination and wage and hour law counseling and litigation on behalf of employers in Puerto Rico local and federal courts.

Ms. Colón-Acevedo has extensive trial experience before both federal and local courts and administrative forums in Puerto Rico. She also has experienced defending employers facing collective wage and hour class actions.

In her...

787-522-7310
Karla Carrillo-Russe Associate San Juan General Employment Litigation
Associate

Karla Carrillo-Russe is an Associate in the San Juan, Puerto Rico office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Her practice focuses in litigating employment matters before state courts as well as providing clients with preventive advice and counseling.

Ms. Carrillo-Russe advises and represents clients in a broad range of employment matters, including claims of discrimination, retaliation, wrongful termination, reasonable accommodation issues, retaliation, and wage and hour claims, among others.

787-522-7308
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