• Attorneys & Counselors

PR Senate Bill 878

Updated: Feb 3

To include a new subparagraph to section A of Article 4 and a new section to Article 5 of Act No. 59-1997, as amended, and to include a new section to Article 13 of Act No. 78-1997, as amended.

On April 2, 2018, senators José A. Vargas Vidot, Cirilo Tirado Rivera, Juan Dalmau Ramírez, and Zoé Laboy Alvarado introduced S.B. 878 in order to include a new sub-paragraph to section A of Article 4 and a new section to Article 5 of Act No. 59-1997, as amended, known as “Act to Regulate the Detection of Controlled Substances Test in the Private Labor Sector”, and to include a new section to Article 13 of Act No. 78-1997, as amended, known as “Act to Regulate the Detection of Controlled Substances Test in the Public Employment”. This bill was referred to the Commission of Government of the Senate on April 4, 2018.


The main purpose of the addition of a sub-paragraph to section A of Article 4 of Act No. 59-1997 is to extend a cause of action to candidates for employment or employee’s against the employer when an employer imposes a disciplinary action or refuses to transfer or promote an employee or refuses to employ a candidate because of a positive result on the controlled substances test for the use of one or more controlled substances, for which the candidate or employee has a medical prescription or legal authorization. The candidate or employee cannot exercise this cause of action when the employer demonstrates that the pattern of consumption of the controlled substance substantially impairs their capacity to perform the functions and obligations of the job position. The proposed section in Article 5 of Act No. 59-1997 will prohibit the employer from taking any disciplinary action or refusing to transfer or promote an employee or refusing to employ a candidate because they had a positive result on the controlled substances test for the use of one or more controlled substances, for which they provided evidence of a medical prescription or legal authorization. This prohibition will not apply when the employer demonstrates that the pattern of consumption of the controlled substance substantially impairs the capacity of the candidate or employee to perform the functions and obligations of the job.


Senate Bill 878 also aims to introduce a new section to Article 13 of Act 78-1997 to establish the same prohibition explained above to the public sector. If this bill is enacted, every department, agency and/or dependency of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico will have to approve all the administrative and operational processes necessary to implement the dispositions of said bill in a period of 90 days from the approval date. On the other hand, the Department of Labor and Human Resources, the Central Office of Personnel Administration, the Forensic Science Institute and the Administration of Services of Mental Health and Against Addiction will have to commence, in a period of 90 days from the approval of the bill, a campaign to provide advice and training to the general public and to the personnel of the departments, agencies, and dependencies of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.


If you have any questions about Senate Bill 878 or the impact it may cause, feel free to contact us at your convenience at (787) 765-5656.