|Tue, 12/14/2021 – 13:00
Updates Technical Assistance Guidance
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated its COVID-19 technical assistance adding a new section to clarify under what circumstances COVID-19 may be considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act.
EEOC’s new questions and answers focus broadly on COVID-19 and the definition of disability under Title I of the ADA and Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act, which both address employment discrimination. The updates also provide examples illustrating how an individual diagnosed with COVID-19 or a post-COVID condition could be considered to have a disability under the laws the EEOC enforces.
Key information includes:
In some cases, an applicant’s or employee’s COVID-19 may cause impairments that are themselves disabilities under the ADA, regardless of whether the initial case of COVID-19 itself constituted an actual disability.
An applicant or employee whose COVID-19 results in mild symptoms that resolve in a few weeks—with no other consequences—will not have an ADA disability that could make someone eligible to receive a reasonable accommodation.
Applicants or employees with disabilities are not automatically entitled to reasonable accommodations under the ADA. They are entitled to a reasonable accommodation when their disability requires it, and the accommodation is not an undue hardship for the employer. But, employers can choose to do more than the ADA requires.
An employer risks violating the ADA if it relies on myths, fears, or stereotypes about a condition and prevents an employee’s return to work once the employee is no longer infectious and, therefore, medically able to return without posing a direct threat to others.
On July 26, 2021, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued Guidance on ‘Long COVID’ as a Disability Under the ADA, Section 504, and Section 1557. The DOJ/HHS Guidance focuses solely on long COVID. This new EEOC technical assistance focuses more broadly on COVID-19 and does so in the context of Title I of the ADA and section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act, which cover employment.
The EEOC has updated its technical assistance on employment and COVID-19 approximately 20 times throughout the pandemic.