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Workers with 'long COVID' protected under Americans with Disabilities Act

"Long COVID" was added as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which means employers must make reasonable accommodations for those employees.

TEXAS, USA — Most people will make a full recovery from COVID-19, but we are seeing some people deal with long-term effects from the virus, which can be a challenge for those who work.

Some long-term effects can be less severe, like loss of taste or smell. But others can hinder daily life, like organ damage, difficulty breathing and more.

Due to the increasing number of COVID-19 long-haulers, "long COVID" was added as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act in July.

Not every case of long COVID-19 is considered a disability, and it is looked at on an individual basis.

“The last few months, the Office of Civil Rights, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice made this ruling because they recognized that long COVID is really something new we're experiencing,” said James Bernsen, the deputy communications director at the Texas Workforce Commission. “But it also has a lot of the hallmarks of a disability, and people suffering with long COVID have the same concerns and need for accommodation in the workforce.”

If you have long COVID, the first step is to talk to your employer about accommodations. But now that long COVID has been added as a disability, it does help protect workers and also gives some guidelines to help employers navigate what to do.

You can watch a webinar held last week by the Texas Workforce Commission on long COVID here. You can also watch other free National Disability Employment Awareness Month webinars from TWC here.

These webinars are all a part of the Texas Workforce Commission’s goal of raising awareness of the benefits employees with disabilities can bring to a company.

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