With the continuing effect of COVID-19 on the workplace and the recent roll-out of the first COVID-19 vaccine across the country, employers are increasingly concerned with how the equal employment opportunity (EEO) laws will be applied to them in their efforts to encourage or mandate employee use of the vaccine. While many questions still remain, on December 16, 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) issued critical updates to its COVID-19 FAQ guidance. The EEOC guidance confirms that employers may maintain mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policies as a safety-based qualification standard in the workplace. However, as with any mandatory vaccination program, an employer must follow processes for disability or religious accommodation along with other considerations. This Legal Update will provide a summary of the updated EEOC guidance, along with practical considerations for employers including the key questions of:
- Can I mandate that all employees receive a COVID-19 vaccine?
- How must I address employee requests to be exempt from the vaccination program for medical or religious reasons?
- What ADA and GINA restrictions around medical examinations apply in COVID-19 vaccination programs?
- Can I require an employee to prove the employee has received a COVID-19 vaccination?
- Can I require others such as vendors and contractors entering my workplace to be vaccinated?