June 1, 2021
Federal equal employment opportunity laws do not prohibit policies requiring that all employees who physically enter a workplace receive a COVID-19 vaccination, so long as such policies comply with the reasonable accommodation provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act as well as other applicable laws, according to technical assistance from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission updated May 28.
Title VII and the ADA require employers to provide reasonable accommodations for employees who, because of a disability or a sincerely held religious belief, practice or observance, do not get vaccinated for COVID-19, unless providing an accommodation would pose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer’s business, EEOC said. Employers with such a requirement also may need to respond to allegations that the requirement has a disparate impact on, or disproportionately excludes, an employee based on protected characteristics including age, race, color, religion, sex and national origin.
Employers also may offer incentives to employees to voluntarily show documentation or confirmation that they have received a COVID-19 vaccine, but the agency outlined some limits in the event that employers are incentivizing employees to voluntarily receive a vaccine administered by an employer or its agent. An employer may offer an incentive to employees to provide documentation or other confirmation from a third party not acting on the employer’s behalf, such as a pharmacy or health department, that employees or their family members have been vaccinated.