July 26, 2021
HHS & DOJ Address “Long COVID” and the ADA
July 26th marked the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It may be no coincidence that on the same day, the Department of Justice and Health and Human Services announced joint guidance on the ADA and “Long COVID-19.”
“Long haulers” or those with long COVID are those who “continue to experience symptoms that can last weeks or months after developing COVID-19.” This condition “can be a disability under the ADA,” as well as Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Just a few tips include:
- Like all disabilities under the ADA, the legal protections apply if an individual has a record or history of long COVID, is regarded as, or perceived to have it.
- Long COVID, like all medical conditions, may be a disability under the ADA but is not always. That determination requires an “individualized assessment.”
- Covered individuals have the right to be free from discrimination based on their long COVID status. Those who currently have long COVID may also have the right to a reasonable accommodation.
The guidance also provides “resources for additional information and best practices.” Click here for the full guidance.
P.S. I was intrigued that the EEOC did not join HHS and DOJ in this joint announcement. The guidance does not address Title I of the ADA that covers private sector employers. The guidance does let the reader know, “employment is outside the scope of this guidance document,” and then refers to the EEOC’s COVID website. Stay tuned to see if the EEOC might follow suit.
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