The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued guidance on December 16, 2020 regarding whether employers may require that all employees receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The below summarizes the guidance. The conclusion, yes, with some exceptions.
COVID-19 Vaccine Guidance:
Under the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers are prohibited from requiring a “medical examination” of an employee. The EEOC’s latest guidance provides that a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for employees is not considered a “medical examination” and therefore does not violate the ADA. In other words, an employer can require its employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
The latitude afforded employers to require the COVID-19 vaccine is subject to some (mostly established) exceptions however. The EEOC guidance clarifies that employees with either a disability or “sincerely held” beliefs that prevent them from getting vaccinated may need to be offered an accommodation. Employers generally have an obligation to accommodate an exempt employee who does not receive the vaccine. For example, a reasonable accommodation may be allowing the employee to work remotely. However, if an accommodation is not possible or reasonable (such as the employee cannot perform his/her duties remotely), and the employee “poses a direct threat to the worksite” the employer may exclude the employee from entering the workplace. Employees who decline to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and who do not fall within an exception may be terminated from their employment.
Virtus Law, PLLC continues to monitor changes in this area and will continue to post relevant updates to this website.