Is Long Haul COVID-19 a Disability under the Law?
After dealing with COVID-19 for over two years, many people who have dealt with the novel coronavirus are also dealing with longer term symptoms and they are not going away easily. This is known as “Long Haul COVID-19.” Long Haul COVID-19 is becoming more common and impacting the lives of many people. It causes many problems that medical professionals and scientists are still working to understand.
For example, Long Haul COVID-19 can lead to cognitive difficulties and make it difficult for employees to complete their work responsibilities in the same manner they could before becoming infected.
This raises the question: is Long Haul COVID-19 considered an “actual” disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?
According to the U.S. Department of Health Human Services, Long Haul COVID-19 can be a disability under the ADA if it substantially limits one or more major life activities. This includes any physical or mental impairment caused by Long Haul COVID-19, so long as it substantially limits a major life activity. The law is very similar under the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA). The MHRA is Minnesota’s law protecting workers who are disabled, which may include Long Haul COVID-19.
The symptoms of Long Haul COVID-19 vary widely and can be different for everyone. Symptoms can last anywhere between weeks to months or even longer. Every case of Long Haul COVID-19 is different. Therefore, an assessment must be made on a case-by-case basis to determine whether a person’s case of Long Haul COVID-19 substantially limits a major life activity.
If an employee has Long Haul COVID-19 that substantially limits one or more major life activities, that employee is entitled to the same protections from discrimination as any person with a disability under the ADA or MHRA.
This also requires employers make reasonable accommodation for employees who have Long Haul COVID-19, so long as it substantially or materially limits a major life activity.
An employer’s requirement to make such accommodations is based on many factors, for example, the size of the employer and the job duties the employee is responsible for based on their job role. Thus, it is important to seek legal advice if you have questions about your specific situation.
If you feel you have experienced discrimination and/or retaliation at work, based on Long Haul COVID-19 symptoms, our attorneys at Kitzer Rochel, PLLP are here to help. We advocate on behalf of employees facing discrimination, retaliation, and whistleblower issues in the workplace. Contact us today for a case evaluation.