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EEOC clarifies when Covid-19 may be a disability

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission updated its Covid-19 technical assistance [1] Dec. 14 to clarify under what circumstances Covid-19 may be considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act 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.

“This update to our Covid-19 information provides an additional resource for employees and employers facing the varied manifestations of Covid-19,” said EEOC Chair Charlotte Burrows. “Like effects from other diseases, effects from Covid-19 can lead to a disability protected under the laws the EEOC enforces. Workers with disabilities stemming from Covid-19 are protected from employment discrimination and may be eligible for reasonable accommodations.”

Key information includes:

On July 26, 2021, the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services issued Guidance on “Long Covid’ as a Disability Under the ADA, Section 504, and Section 1557 [2], which focuses solely on long Covid. The 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.