Does contraction of COVID-19 implicate employee rights under the ADA?
Generally, no. Temporary, non-chronic impairments with little or no long-term impact (e.g., broken limbs, sprained joints, concussions, appendicitis, pneumonia, and influenza) generally are not viewed as covered disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). However, an employee who contracts COVID-19 may be entitled to reasonable accommodation(s) if their reaction to COVID-19 is severe or if it complicates or exacerbates one or more of their pre-existing health condition(s)/disabilities (e.g. COPD).
Can I require a fitness-for-duty or return-to-work certification prior to return to work of an employee with a confirmed case of COVID-19?
Employers may request a fitness-for-duty or return-to-work certification if an employee has been quarantined by a treating medical provider or public health official or the employer has placed the employee off work based upon reasonable, objective evidence that the employee may pose a direct threat of harm in the workplace. However, the requested certification should be narrowly tailored to seek information that is job-related and consistent with business necessity. The fitness-for-duty certification should be focused on whether or not the employee poses a direct threat in the workplace.
To learn more, contact Greg Tumolo –chair of the employment law team at Duffy& Sweeney — via email here or via phone at 401.457.1846.
Or visit Duffy & Sweeney’s COVID-19 Resource Center here.