The federal government has authorized employers to require their employees to receive COVID-19 immunization. On December, 16, 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released new guidance for employers who must ensure a safe work environment in which “an individual shall not pose a direct threat to the health or safety of individuals in the workplace.” Meaning, a company can require its employees be vaccinated. However, according to the guidance, an employee may be entitled to an exemption from a mandatory vaccination policy only if they (i) have a disability recognized by the American Disabilities Act (ADA); or (ii) hold a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII).
If an exemption applies, the employer must provide the employee a reasonable accommodation to its vaccination policy (i.e. working remotely), unless the accommodation would pose an undue hardship. However, if such reasonable accommodation would pose an undue hardship, then the employer may terminate the employee. However, this does not mean the employee may be terminated automatically. Before doing so, employers must determine if any other rights apply under the equal employment opportunity laws or other federal, state, and local authorities.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions regarding the EEOC’s guidance or your vaccination policy. We are happy to assist your business in these unprecedented times.