EEOC Says Employers Can Require Employees to be Vaccinated Against COVID-19
December 22, 2020 – On December 16, 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued revised guidance regarding employer requirements that employees be vaccinated against COVID-19. The EEOC said that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not prohibit an employer from requiring an employee to be vaccinated, distinguishing vaccinations from medical examinations, such as blood tests, breath analyses, and blood pressure screening.
This guidance makes it clear that requiring an employee to show proof of having received a COVID-19 vaccination is not a disability-related inquiry. Proof can consist of a vaccination card or other verification from a health care provider or pharmacy authorized to administer the vaccination.
Employees can seek an exemption to the vaccination requirement for medical reasons. In that instance, the EEOC cautioned that employers that require the employee to present proof of receiving a vaccine need to ensure that questions are job-related and consistent with business necessity.
The Commission said, “If an employer requires employees to provide proof that they have received a COVID-19 vaccination from a pharmacy or their own health care provider, the employer may want to warn the employee not to provide any medical information as part of the proof in order to avoid implicating the ADA.”
The new guidance points out that employees also can be exempted from the vaccination requirement because of the employee’s sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance that prevents the employee from receiving the vaccination. In that case, the employer “must provide a reasonable accommodation for the religious belief, practice, or observance unless it would pose an undue hardship under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.”
The new guidance is contained in section K of “What You Should Know About COVID-19 and ADA, the Rehabilitation Act and Other EEO Laws,” which can be accessed here.
For more information or questions, please contact any of our employment law attorneys listed below.