PCORI

New Guidance on COVID-19 and ADA Disability

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued 14 additional answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding what employers can and cannot do to comply with federal fair employment laws during the COVID-19 pandemic. The new answers address the definition of “disability” and how to determine whether an individual with COVID-19 meets it under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

ADA on COVID-19

The ACA states that employers with 15 or more employees could face liability if specific adverse employment actions are taken against individuals diagnosed or believed to have COVID-19. These employers need to provide reasonable accommodations for those with disabilities, including those related to COVID-19.

EEOC’s Definition of Disability

The new FAQs and their answers state that COVID-19 may qualify an individual for ADA protection. This protection is based on “actual” disability, a “record of” disability or being “regarded as” having a disability. Individualized assessments must be performed by employers to determine whether an employee’s COVID-19 meets any of the definitions.

Types of Disability

COVID-19 can qualify as an “actual disability” if it causes a physical or mental impairment that “substantially limits one or more major life activities.” Such activities include major bodily functions (i.e., respiratory, lung, or heart function) and daily activities like walking or concentrating. It is also important to note that limitations do not have to last a certain length of time or be long-term to be considered substantially limiting.

Certain adverse employment actions could violate the ADA even if an individual had COVID-19 in the past or was mistakenly believed to have COVID-19. To learn more about the FAQs, refer to this document.

If you have any questions regarding this information, please contact your Creative Benefits, Inc. team member.