Feds confirm wide berth for employer vaccination requirements

Sources: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; CP staff

New Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidance and expanded technical assistance surrounding the pandemic indicate strong footing for companies treating Covid-19 vaccination as a condition of employment. Federal EEO laws, the agency notes:

  • Do not prevent an employer from requiring all employees physically entering the workplace to be vaccinated for Covid-19, so long as employers comply with the reasonable accommodation provisions of the Americans With Disabilities Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  • Do not prevent or limit employers from offering incentives to employees to voluntarily provide documentation or other confirmation of vaccination obtained from a third party. If opting to obtain vaccination information from their employees, employers must keep vaccination information confidential pursuant to the ADA.
  • Allow employers that are administering vaccines to offer incentives for employees to be vaccinated, as long as the incentives are not coercive. Because vaccinations require employees to answer pre-vaccination disability-related screening questions, a very large incentive could make employees feel pressured to disclose protected medical information.

The expanded technical assistance provides new information about how the ADA and Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act apply when an employer offers incentives for employees to provide documentation or other confirmation of vaccination when an employee gets a vaccine in the community or from the employer or its agent. The technical assistance answers Covid-19 questions only from the perspective of the EEO laws. Other federal, state, and local laws come into play regarding the pandemic for employers and employees.

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