The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently updated its technical assistance on “What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws” to address questions about how these laws apply to vaccinations. Key takeaways from the update include:
- An employer can require employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19 if it has a qualification standard that includes a requirement that an employee cannot pose a direct threat to the health and safety of others in the workplace. However, if the vaccination requirement screens out an individual with a disability, the employer must show that the unvaccinated employee would pose a direct threat due to a “significant risk of substantial harm to the health of others” and determine whether it can be eliminated or reduced by reasonable accommodation, for example, allowing the employee to work remotely.
- If an employer requiring vaccinations has an employee who says they cannot be vaccinated because of a sincerely held religious practice or belief, the employer must provide a reasonable accommodation unless doing so would pose an undue hardship under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
- Requiring an employee to show proof they received a COVID-19 vaccination is not a disability related inquiry as asking for proof is unlikely to elicit information about a disability. However, asking an employee why they did not get vaccinated could, and if so, would be subject to the ADA standard that inquiries be “job related and consistent with business necessity.” Also, if proof is required that an employee received a vaccination from a pharmacy or health care provider, the employer should inform the employee to not include any medical information as part of that proof to avoid implicating the ADA.
For more information, view EEOC’s technical assistance online at: https://www.eeoc.gov/wysk/what-you-should-know-about-covid-19-and-ada-rehabilitation-act-and-other-eeo-laws
Pamela Sande is president and CEO of HR at Work, LLC, 100 Independence Drive, Suite 7, Hyannis. She can be reached at 774-413-5774. For more information, visit www.yourHRatWork.com