DOJ Suggests Long-Haul COVID-19 Be Added as a Disability Under the ADA

long-COVID-19A recent study by the University of Michigan into the divided effects of long-haul COVID-19 on different cultural backgrounds reached an unfortunate conclusion: Black patients were found to experience challenges in returning to work after recovering from COVID-19, taking nearly 36 days on average to get back to work. They also received fewer medical follow-ups, a lack of health accommodations, and 50% of the participants were readmitted for treatment after two months. 

Assistant Professor Sheria Robinson-Lane at the University of Michigan School of Nursing explained the division, stating that “Black patients were most likely to be furloughed and less likely to receive modified duties related to ongoing health issues…those who were not able to return to work had ongoing long-haul COVID-19 symptoms like fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath and a persistent cough.” 

The extended time it takes Black and minority employees to return to work is detrimental to their ability to survive. This means that if an employee takes longer than their provided sick leave to recover without approval from their employer, that absence could be reported as a “no show” – a terminable offense with most companies. 

In response, the DOJ has recently suggested that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) be expanded to also cover conditions of long-haul COVID-19 as a disability. Some companies will have no choice but to comply, while others are taking these steps out of care for their staff’s struggles. It is not a federally-mandated law as of yet. This will greatly assist workers who experience COVID symptoms for a series of weeks or months, otherwise referred to as “long COVID.

Publications all across the web have been reporting on the disproportionate medical care and employment considerations amongst Black and minority communities:

Experienced Employment Law Attorney, Mediator, Arbitrator, Investigator, Legal and Media Commentator 

Twice-named a U.S. News Best Lawyer in America for employment and labor law, Angela Reddock-Wright is an employment and labor law attorney, mediator, arbitrator, and certified workplace and Title IX investigator (AWI-CH) in Los Angeles, CA. Known as the “Workplace Guru,” Angela is an influencer and leading authority on employment, workplace/HR, Title IX, hazing, and bullying issues. Furthermore, she’s been named a “Top California Employment Lawyer” by the Daily Journal and one of Los Angeles’ “Most Influential Minority and Women Attorneys” by the Los Angeles Business Journal.

Angela is a regular legal and media commentator and analyst and has appeared on such media outlets as Good Morning America, Entertainment Tonight, Law and Crime with Brian Ross, Court TV, CNN, NewsNation, ABC News, CBS News, Fox 11 News, KTLA-5, the Black News Channel, Fox Soul – The Black Report, NPR, KPCC, Airtalk-89.3, KJLH Front Page with Dominique DiPrima, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the LA Times, Forbes.com, Yahoo! Entertainment, People Magazine, Essence Magazine, the Los Angeles Sentinel, LA Focus, Daily Journal, Our Weekly and the Wave Newspapers.

Angela is a member of the panel of distinguished mediators and arbitrators with Judicate West, a California dispute resolution company. She also owns her own dispute resolution law firm, the Reddock Law Group of Los Angeles, specializing in the mediation, arbitration, and investigation of employment discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and other workplace claims, along with Title IX, sexual harassment, assault, and misconduct conduct cases, along with hazing and bullying cases in K-12 schools, colleges and universities, fraternities and sororities; fire, police and other public safety agencies and departments; and other private and public sector workplaces.

Reddock-Wright has also launched her own radio show, Legal Lens with Angela Reddock-Wright, airing on Tavis Smiley’s new KBLA Talk 1580 radio station on Saturdays at 11:00 a.m. PT with replays on subsequent Sundays. Listeners may tune-in by downloading the APP @kbla1580 and call the PowerLines at 1-800-920-1580.

For more information regarding resources for employers, businesses, and employees during this time, connect with her on LinkedIn for new updates, or contact her here. You may also follow her on Instagram.

This communication is not legal advice. It is educational only. For legal advice, consult with an experienced employment law attorney in your state or city.

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