Dec 14, 2021 - Health

COVID may qualify as disability under ADA, EEOC says

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) seal is displayed on a window at the headquarters in Washington, D.C

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated guidance on COVID-19 on Tuesday stating that employees who have had the disease may be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Why it matters: The updated guidance expands on previous announcements that people with long-haul COVID could qualify for disability resources. Not everyone who tests positive will qualify and the EEOC said that employers must individually evaluate each employee to determine if they meet the requirements.

The big picture: To qualify for help under the ADA, a person would have to show one of the following:

  • An "actual" disability, such as a physical or mental impairments that limits a major life activity.
  • A "record of" a disability shows the worker's record of impairment or
  • Be "regarded as" an individual of disability, meaning an employer takes some action against a person due to a perception that a worker has a disability.

For example: The EEOC said employees who may have developed heart inflammation or suffered a stroke due to COVID-19 may be able to qualify.

  • But a worker who tests positive and is asymptomatic or has mild symptoms similar to the common cold or flu would not qualify, the EEOC said.
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