BREAKING NEWS: Long COVID is a Disability Under the ADA. Read the Guidance Here.

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  • BREAKING NEWS: Long COVID is a Disability Under the ADA. Read the Guidance Here.

Hey Compliance Warriors!


Although many people with COVID-19 get better within weeks, some people continue to experience symptoms that can last months after first being infected, or may have new or recurring symptoms at a later time.1


This can happen to anyone who has had COVID19, even if the initial illness was mild. People with this condition are sometimes called “long-haulers.” This condition is known as “long COVID.”2


In light of the rise of long COVID as a persistent and significant health issue, the Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice have joined together to provide this guidance. This guidance explains that long COVID can be a disability under Titles II (state and local government) and III (public accommodations) of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),3 Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), 4 and Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Section 1557).5


Each of these federal laws protects people with disabilities from discrimination.6 This guidance also provides resources for additional information and best practices. This document focuses solely on long COVID, and does not address when COVID-19 may meet the legal definition of disability. The civil rights protections and responsibilities of these federal laws apply even during emergencies. 7 They cannot be waived.


1 See Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Post-COVID Conditions, www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/long-term-effects.html (last visited July 21, 2021).
2 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recognizes other post-COVID conditions, a series of illnesses resulting in debilitating conditions, that can be similar to long COVID. See Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Post-COVID Conditions, www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/longterm-effects.html (last visited July 21, 2021). This guidance may also be applicable to other post-COVID conditions.
3 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101-12103, 12131-12189. Although the ADA’s definition of disability applies to all parts of the ADA, this guidance only addresses examples that may arise under Titles II and III of the ADA.
4 29 U.S.C. § 794.
5 42 U.S.C. § 18116.
6 This guidance does not address examples of reasonable accommodation or nondiscrimination in employment under Title I of the ADA or Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act. Employment issues related to COVID-19 are discussed in technical assistance issued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, at https://www.eeoc.gov/wysk/what-you-should-know-about-covid-19-and-ada-rehabilitationact-and-other-eeo-laws. 7 See Department of Justice, Statement by the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Leading a Coordinated Civil Rights Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19), https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/statement-principal-deputy-assistant-attorney-general-civil-rights-leading-1.


FAQS https://www.ada.gov/long_covid_joint_guidance.pdf




Lisa Smith, SPHR, SHRM – SCP

Certified EEO Investigator (EEOC)

Lead Support and Content Chief – HelpDeskforHR.com

“You cannot be audit-proof, but you can Be Audit-Secure.”

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