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Long COVID and Employment Regulations: ADA, FMLA, State and Local Law Implications

Biden's New Guidance on Long Term ADA Disability Classification

Recording of a 90-minute CLE video webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE course will examine how planning how to safely return their workforce to the office and implementing reopening policies should address employees with "long COVID" and other continuing COVID-19 psychological and physical complications. The panel will address if these employees may be covered under federal, state, and local disability and medical leave laws and the conflicting requirements of those regulations.


COVID-19 vaccine distribution is well underway, and many employers are planning to return their workforce to the office safely. However, as reopening policies are established, employers and counsel should be mindful of the rise of COVID-19 "long haulers," individuals who have recovered from the coronavirus but are still suffering from continuing psychological and physical complications.

Employment counsel should consider the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) implications since the ADA lacks an exhaustive list of impairments covered as a disability. Each case is determined based on an individual's specific limitations on major life activities. COVID-19 long haulers are reporting various symptoms that may or may not subside despite treatment from medical professionals which may substantially limit an individual's major life activities with no sign of abatement. Employers and their counsel have to determine whether an employee's long haul symptoms amount to a disability under the ADA and what may be reasonable workplace accommodations that allow the employee to perform their job despite the long haul symptoms.

Employers and counsel must also evaluate whether an employee with long haul COVID-19 symptoms is eligible for medical leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), including the use of intermittent leave. Employers might have to provide a COVID-19 long hauler with some combination of FMLA leave and a reasonable workplace accommodation under the ADA, depending on the specific impairment and circumstances affecting the employee.

In addition to federal law, many states are now providing paid or unpaid leave for employees suffering from active infections and symptoms of COVID-19. Some states require that employers provide supplemental paid sick leave to employees experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis. Other states are providing paid leave for periods of quarantine associated with active COVID-19 infections but have not yet provided guidance on leave associated with long haul symptoms of COVID-19. Counsel must consider employees working remotely and what state law applies to each employee's situation.

Listen as our expert panel discusses the continued complications for employers and employees when COVID-19 symptoms remain months or years after the initial infection. The panel will address these employment issues as they arise and what possible legislative developments and guidance may be on the horizon.



  1. Definition of COVID-19 "long hauler"
  2. ADA
    1. Short-term disability
    2. Reasonable accommodations
    3. Long-term disability
  3. FMLA
    1. Intermittent leave
  4. State laws
    1. California
    2. New York
    3. Other states


The panel will review these and other relevant topics:

  • What symptoms should employers look for when evaluating COVID-19 long haulers as a potential disability?
  • When should an employer and employee consider long-term disability or other options, including retirement?
  • How can counsel assist employers in evaluating FMLA intermittent leave requests?
  • What state employment laws may affect a COVID-19 long hauler's leave requests?


Gillespie, Richard
Richard L. Gillespie

Littler Mendelson

Mr. Gillespie represents and advises employers of all sizes and industries in all aspects of labor and employment law....  |  Read More

Janice, Christina
Christina M. Janice

Of Counsel
Barnes & Thornburg

Ms. Janice represents clients in nationwide and regional employment discrimination and commercial litigation, wage and...  |  Read More

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