Employment

Headline:

Individuals, family members, and advocates who have questions about workplace accommodations under the ADA can contact the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) and receive free and confidential guidance.

Last-reviewed: 9am, Sept. 22, 2022

Key Resources:

The Basics:

  • Federal laws protect workers – including those who may be “high risk” if they contract COVID-19 and need extra protection from getting sick – against employment discrimination.
  • People with Long COVID may be entitled to reasonable accommodations in their workplace. Learn more here.
  • Federal vaccination mandates have largely been blocked by courts, although a vaccine mandate is required in medical facilities that accept Medicare and Medicaid.
  • Some states require paid sick leave to qualified workers.
  • The Biden-Harris administration announced new investments and strategies to expand employment opportunities for people who were formerly incarcerated. Read the administration’s Fact Sheet here.
  • The EEOC has consolidated workplace safety and EEO laws regarding COVID-19 here.

The Breakdown:

The Bottom Line:

  • Private employers can require that employees, subject to eligible medical or religious exemptions, get vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • Care teams supporting people with questions related to their employment can direct them to consult with their Human Resources department.

Unpaid Leave

The Basics:

  • The FMLA allows eligible workers unpaid time off without the risk of losing their job.

The Breakdown:

  • Under the FMLA, eligible workers can receive job-protected unpaid leave to address their own illness or to provide caregiving to a close family member. Employees who have worked at least 1,250 hours in the last year may be eligible whether their issue is related to COVID-19 or another health issue.
  • The DOL has this guidance regarding the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), including this COVID-19 and the Family and Medical Leave Act Questions and Answers.
  • In addition to denying an employee’s request for FMLA leave, an employer’s discouraging an employee from taking unpaid leave can violate the FMLA.

The Bottom Line:

  • Care teams can uplift how human resource departments can clarify whether a worker has leave benefits or specific insurance policies, such as short-term disability leave, which may provide coverage if an employee needs to miss work due to illness.

Job Loss

The Basics:

  • The US unemployment rate has ticked up to 3.70%, rising at a sharper pace for both Hispanic and Black workers.
  • State policies vary on whether people are eligible for unemployment benefits if they leave or lose their jobs for not complying with an employer’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
  •  Some people who received unemployment insurance may have a higher tax bill if taxes were not withheld from their UI.

The Breakdown:

  • While inflation remains high, the labor market has recovered all 22 million jobs lost at the beginning of the pandemic, and unemployment has dropped to 3.7%. Read President Biden’s remarks here.
  • Workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own should be eligible for Unemployment Insurance. Learn more here about unemployment benefits and COVID-19 provisions.
    • Each state sets its own guidelines for UI benefits eligibility. To learn how to file for unemployment benefits in your state, click on CareerOneStop and select your state.
    • Report unemployment insurance fraud online or by calling 1-800-347-3756.
  • In some states, people who lose their jobs over an employer’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate may still be eligible for unemployment benefits even if they refused to comply with company policy.
    • Not all states operate similarly, so it is important to check with each state’s department of labor to determine eligibility rules.

The Bottom Line:

  • Care teams can help people experiencing job loss by connecting them to job training and work search resources, as well as income maximization strategies. 

Spotlight on Non-Discrimination

  • Employment discrimination based on national origin or race, age, sex, sexual orientation and gender identity, religion, disability or the perception that one has a disability, is illegal. If you experience employment discrimination for these reasons, you can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Here, the EEOC provides information on federal laws that protect people against employment discrimination during the COVID-19 pandemic. Also visit state and local anti-discrimination agencies’ websites for COVID-19-related non-discrimination information and practical updates.
  • A divided Fourth Circuit panel ruled in Williams v. Kincaid that gender dysphoria can qualify as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act.