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
Paid Leave and Work Safety
- 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 EEOC has issued this guidance on Long COVID as a disability under the ADA.
- For resources to help workers experiencing long-term COVID-19 symptoms, consult the US DOL “Coronavirus Resources” website.
- This EEOC Fact Sheet explains how federal laws protect workers – including those who may be “high risk” and need extra protection from getting sick or those who may need a modification of their employer’s policies – against employment discrimination.
- Workers experiencing Long COVID can contact the Job Accommodation Network to seek information and support to help them keep working during recovery.
- The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) provides an A to Z of Disabilities and Accommodations that may be helpful for employees who have a disability and are seeking an accommodation at work. Individuals, family members, and advocates who have questions about workplace accommodations under the ADA can contact JAN and receive free and confidential guidance.
- A federal vaccine mandate applies only to workers in health care facilities that accept Medicare or Medicaid. Private employers can implement their own vaccine mandates. See OSHA for more information. Click here for a fact sheet on the status of federal vaccine mandates (last updated June 15, 2022).
- Employees with workplace safety concerns can contact www.osha.gov/contactus or 1-800-321-6742 to file a report.
- Local coalitions for occupational safety and health may have information on advocacy and resources to address workplace safety concerns.
- The DOL offers COVID-19 workplace safety materials online in both English and Spanish. OSHA also provides guidance in Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace.
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.
- The FMLA allows eligible workers unpaid time off without the risk of losing their job.
- 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.
- The DOL offers numerous FMLA resources in Spanish, including this FMLA poster.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.