As the largest inoculation effort in human history kicked off this month, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission provided guidance on mandatory employee vaccinations. Here is a brief summary, courtesy of NAM Director of Labor and Employment Policy Drew Schneider.
What they’re saying: The EEOC allows employers to require employees to take the vaccine, so long as the company meets requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.
Equal employment laws still apply during the pandemic, but the EEOC states that they “do not interfere with or prevent employers from following the guidelines and suggestions made by the CDC or state/local public health authorities about steps employers should take regarding COVID-19.”
Disabilities and direct threats: “If an employee is unable to take the vaccine due to a disability, an employer may only exclude the employee from the workplace if that worker presents a ‘direct threat’ to other workers and the employer is unable to provide a reasonable accommodation to the employee that would eliminate or reduce the risk to other employees,” says Schneider.
“If an employer suspects that the employee poses a direct threat, the employer should conduct an individualized assessment of four factors to determine whether direct threat exists: duration of risk, severity of potential harm, likelihood of harm and the imminence of potential harm.”
Religious objections: If an employee objects to the vaccine because of a sincerely held religious practice or belief, an employer must provide reasonable accommodation unless it poses an undue hardship under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, Schneider explains. According to the EEOC, courts have defined “undue hardship” as having more than a minimal cost to the employer.
The NAM says: NAM President and CEO Timmons said in a recent statement about potential vaccine mandates, “While there are likely legal concerns with blanket mandates, if any of our members believed that a requirement at their company was the right thing to do, we would certainly support that within the bounds of the law. Because America’s future depends on folks rolling up our sleeves in a new way.”
Check out the guidance here.