Employees with long COVID may be protected under the laws and regulations that govern disability in the workplace. The resources listed below detail the classifications behind disability status and long COVID. They also contain guidance for employers and employees who may be new to the accommodations process.
Defining Long COVID-19
COVID-19’s impact varies widely from person to person. While some recover fully, others experience lingering, recurring, or new symptoms that appear at a later time.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Post-COVID conditions are a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems people can experience four or more weeks after first being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. Even people who did not have COVID-19 symptoms in the days or weeks after they were infected can have post-COVID conditions.” Often, people in this situation are referred to as having “long COVID” or “long haul COVID.”
Long COVID-19 and Disability
On July 26, 2021, the federal government published resources for Americans impacted by long COVID, including guidance about long COVID qualifying as a disability. Certain employees and job candidates with long COVID will be covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
The following resources explain the requirements for classifying long COVID as a disability and what rights are afforded to those with long COVID:
- COVID-19 Long Haulers and the Americans with Disabilities Act | Job Accommodation Network (askjan.org)
- Guidance on “Long COVID” as a Disability Under the ADA, Section 504, and Section 1557 (ADA.gov)
- Rights and COVID-19 | U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (hhs.gov)
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy launched a webpage with dedicated long COVID-19 related guidance for employers and employees. In addition to this webpage, employers can find information using the resources listed below:
- What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws | U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (eeoc.gov)
- Essential Protections During the COVID-19 Pandemic | U.S. Department of Labor (dol.gov)
Resources Related to Long COVID at Work
Workplace accommodations are an essential strategy in enabling employees with disabilities to succeed at work. The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) offers resources to help employees and employers understand and navigate the accommodations process. In addition, the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) posted a recording of their recent webinar, The ADA at Work: Considerations for COVID-19.
PEAT’s Telework and Accessibility Toolkit also contains resources that help equip employers with the information needed to ensure that the virtual workplace is accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities such as long COVID.