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Guidance on COVID-19 Vaccinations and the Workplace Released by the EEOC

Published:  December 18, 2020

The long-awaited approval and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine has arrived and, with its arrival, many businesses have questions about it and, more specifically, whether they can mandate it as a job requirement. Although some people have already started receiving the vaccine, the size of the population as well as dispersal may cause delays for the many people.  Some people are wary of getting the COVID-19 vaccine for various reasons.  As the general population is granted more access to the vaccine through the coming months, employers will be faced with many questions regarding employee vaccinations.  Questions that have been arising are whether employers have the right to require employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine; whether, in certain industries, they have recourse if an employee refuses to vaccinate; and whether certain reasons for not wanting a vaccination need to be honored.

In anticipation of the general release of the vaccine and the attendant questions that businesses may face, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) just released guidance for employers on how their COVID-19 vaccine policies may intersect with certain laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Included in this guidance is a question-and-answer section covering topics such as:

  • Do employers have the right to mandate that their employees receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
  • What if my employee refuses to get the COVID-19 vaccine due to a disability?
  • How are religious accommodations factored in?
  •  The ADA limits the circumstances that an employer may require an employee to receive a “medical examination”. Is the COVID-19 vaccination a “medical examination”?
  • Privacy and confidentiality concerns.

The EEOC guidance can be found here

If you have any questions about this topic or any other labor and employment law matters, please feel free to contact the attorneys at The Royal Law Firm at 413-586-2288