The Biden administration recently issued guidance that workers with long-term, lingering symptoms of COVID-19 may be protected under federal disability laws.
This guidance brings forth a new area of concern for employers: that they may become targets of litigation if they discriminate against or fail to accommodate a person with such lingering symptoms.
More than 45 million people have tested positive for COVID-19 as of late October. Various studies have shown that approximately 10 percent of people who contract the virus will experience long-term symptoms.
This means more than four million people are likely experiencing long-haul difficulties with the virus, which will have some significant effects on the workforce.
Under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), workers can sue their employers over disability discrimination in decisions regarding employment, as well as over failure to reasonably accommodate certain conditions in ways that include remote work, medical leave or more flexible scheduling.
The greatest risk for ADA workplace litigation involving long-term COVID suffers occurs when workers and employers have to determine whether modifications to a job are reasonable or should be granted. Accommodation requests under the ADA are more likely to go to court when they’ve been denied.
There have been legal questions surrounding whether long COVID meets the definition of a disability under the ADA. However, it appears courts are indeed taking these cases on. A review of federal court cases did find there have been disability discrimination suits already filed by workers who say they are experiencing long-term COVID symptoms.
For more information about workers’ rights under the ADA and the protections available for people who suffer from long COVID, contact an experienced whistleblower attorney at Kardell Law Group.