Will Employers Be Allowed to Mandate Vaccination for COVID-19?
On December 16, EEOC added a new section to its ongoing list of questions and answers related to COVID-19. Read our Client Alert here.
Can employers require workers to get vaccinated for COVID-19?
Generally, employers have the authority to mandate vaccination. Most non-union companies have the latitude to create such requirements due, in part, to employment relationships being “at-will.”
What if workers object to vaccine mandates?
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, workers may request exemptions from vaccine mandates if they have a disability that is covered by law. Employers must then communicate with workers who request an exemption to determine if not receiving the vaccination is a reasonable accommodation for their particular disabilities and job responsibilities and is not an undue burden for their employer. If employers fail to engage in the interactive process or provide a reasonable accommodation, they could expose themselves to a lawsuit.
What about religious objections to vaccines?
Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits workplace discrimination based on religion. Accordingly, workers have the right to seek an exception to a vaccination mandate based on their religious beliefs. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which enforces Title VII, defines religion beyond membership in a church or belief in God. Employers, however, can deny religious accommodations if they would create an undue burden.
Should employers require the COVID-19 vaccine?
It depends on the type of business the employer runs. Because of the airborne spread of the coronavirus, that may prompt employers with workers who have frequent contact with the public to mandate a shot.
If you have any questions please contact a Stevens & Lee attorney.