In July, the Biden Administration provided guidance that long COVID may be considered a disability under various federal laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The guidance indicates that long COVID may be “a physical or mental impairment under the ADA,” referencing examples of lung damage, heart damage, kidney damage, neurological damage, circulatory system damage, and lingering emotional illness and other mental health conditions. HHS further provides three examples in which long COVID may substantially limit one or more major life activities:
- A person with long COVID who has lung damage that causes shortness of breath, fatigue, and related effects is substantially limited in respiratory function, among other major life activities.
- A person with long COVID who has symptoms of intestinal pain, vomiting, and nausea that have lingered for months is substantially limited in gastrointestinal function, among other major life activities.
- A person with long COVID who experiences memory lapses and “brain fog” is substantially limited in brain function, concentrating, and/or thinking.
Business Takeaway: It is important to note how the new guidance affects ADA accommodation obligations for businesses related to long COVID. That said, and as indicated in the same government guidance, long COVID accommodation requests require individualized assessments as long COVID is not always considered a disability under the ADA. Contact Adam at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions regarding employee accommodations and long COVID.