Search Site
21 Main St, Ste 352 | Hackensack, New Jersey 07601
Call For Consultation 551-245-8894

Appellate Division Holds Post-COVID Symptoms Do Not Qualify Employee for Disability Status

Employment discrimination against individuals with a disability is prohibited by the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD). This is not in dispute, but determining exactly what qualifies a worker for disability status can lead to serious conflict, and sometimes even litigation.

In June 2023, a case before the New Jersey Superior Court’s Appellate Division tested just how far a disability designation could extend. Guzman v. M. Teixeira International, Inc. arose from a plaintiff, Uriel Guzman, who says she was fired from her healthcare worker job due to lingering effects she experienced after contracting COVID-19 in March 2020.

While Ms. Guzman returned to work within a few weeks, she continued to suffer from long-term symptoms, including fatigue, shortness of breath and cognitive impairment. She asked for a leave of absence from her employer, but her request was denied. After that, Teixeira fired her. Ms. Guzman filed a complaint with the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights (DCR), alleging that she had been discriminated against on the basis of a disability. The DCR found in favor of Ms. Guzman, and Teixeira appealed that finding to the Appellate Division.

Under the LAD, a disability is defined as a “physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.” Applying that language to the facts of Ms. Guzman’s case, the panel held that her lingering COVID-related symptoms did not constitute a disability, as she was able to perform her job duties, care for herself and her family, and engage in social activities. Likewise, the Appellate Division ruled that the termination was not based on Teixeira’s perception of her purported disability.

With so many people suffering from post-COVID symptoms, the ruling that not every illness constitutes a disability under the LAD could have far-reaching effects for New Jersey companies and workers. However, employees experiencing more serous symptoms linked to a current or previous case of COVID-19 could be eligible for the legal protections given to disabled individuals.

Should you suspect that you have been mistreated at work due to a physical or mental disability, or if your employer refuses to provide a reasonable accommodation for your condition, it is time to speak with an experienced New Jersey employment lawyer. You can set up an appointment with an attorney at Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in Hackensack by calling 551-245-8894 or contacting us online.

Neil  H.  Deutsch Attorney Photo
Neil H. Deutsch

Neil H. Deutsch has been practicing law for over 35 years and is known as a skilled negotiator in employment and discrimination law. He believes in a bottom-line approach of risk analysis and cost effectiveness for his clients. "Case evaluation is something we take seriously," says Mr. Deutsch who seeks top net dollar for his…

Bruce  L.  Atkins Attorney Photo
Bruce L. Atkins
Senior Partner

Bruce L. Atkins is the Senior Managing Partner at Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt P.C., a prominent plaintiff employment law firm in the tri-state area. Mr. Atkins believes employees’ rights should be aggressively pursued when they’ve been wrongfully dealt with by their employers. He brings this philosophy to his practice when considering each case and its…

Adam  J.  Kleinfeldt Attorney Photo
Adam J. Kleinfeldt

Adam J. Kleinfeldt joined Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in March of 2015.  He primarily represents individuals in employment litigation such as discrimination, retaliation and whistle blowing matters. He has extensive experience in all phases of the litigation process. Adam has obtained significant results for his clients, including a $525,000 jury verdict in a sexual…

Debra M. McGarvey Attorney Photo
Debra M. McGarvey

Debra M. McGarvey joined Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in December 2019. She has extensive experience defending employees and employers in state and federal court in employment litigation matters. She has represented clients on various issues arising out of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD), the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA), the…

Carly Skarbnik Meredith Attorney Photo
Carly Skarbnik Meredith

Carly Skarbnik Meredith, Esq. is a Partner at the firm. Carly has focused her career exclusively in the field of employment law. She has a plethora of experience representing both employees and employers with their employment issues, needs, and concerns. She believes representing both employees and employers has made her an extremely well-rounded client advocate.…


Go to the following links for descriptions of selection methodologies for Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review RatingsSuper Lawyers and The National Trial Lawyers Top 100.
No aspect of these advertisements has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

Contact us

Quick Contact Form