Vaccinating Employees; Immunizing Employers

Newly updated Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) guidance confirms what many employment attorneys have suspected to be true: Employers may require “in-person” employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as long as reasonable accommodations are considered for workers who refuse the vaccination based on disabilities or sincerely held religious beliefs.

Employers are also empowered to offer incentives to employees who produce documentation to confirm their COVID-19 vaccination status. As noted by the guidance: “Requesting documentation or other confirmation showing that an employee received a COVID-19 vaccination in the community is not a disability-related inquiry covered by the ADA.”

Similarly, employers are free to offer an incentive to employees who voluntarily receive a vaccination directly from the employer or the employer’s agent if the incentive “is not so substantial as to be coercive.” The guidance explains: “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.” A modest bonus or a few days of paid time off are options that would likely comply with the EEOC guidance.

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