e-Alerts

e-Alert: EEOC Updates Guidance on Employer Policies and COVID-19 Vaccines

Background

On May 28, 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated the guidance for employers requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for employees to return to the workplace.

Summary

Vaccination efforts operated by an employer or its vendor raise unique issues including prohibitions contained in the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), to assist employers the EEOC established a Guide to help answer frequently asked questions. This guide addressed a broad range of topics, including the following:

Employers may require all employees physically entering the workplace to be vaccinated for COVID-19:

  • Reasonable Accommodations as identified by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) may need to be provided for employees with disabilities or sincerely held religious beliefs relating to vaccination.
  • Accommodation requirements are fact-specific and subject to consideration with a variety of factors in mind, including whether the employee is a “direct threat” to the health and safety of the employee and others in the workplace.
  • Employers should keep in mind that certain demographic groups may face greater barriers to receiving the vaccination than others, such as those with disabilities.

Employers should minimize the risk of receiving confidential medical information beyond vaccination status:

  • Employers should not request any medical documentation that could include details or reasoning for why an employee received or declined the vaccination.

Employers may encourage and provide incentives for employees to get vaccinated by:

  • Providing educational information about COVID-19 vaccines
  • Raising awareness about the benefits of receiving a vaccination
  • Addressing commonly asked questions and concerns
  • Offering Incentives to employees to voluntarily provide vaccination confirmation

An employee’s COVID-19 vaccination status and any additional information pertaining to it is protected as “confidential medical information** under the ADA:

  • The ADA confidentiality requirement applies in all cases, regardless of whether an employee receives the vaccination or not.

Employers Next Steps

  • For additional resources, refer to the EEOC Guide.
  • Review any of your applicable COVID-19 policies regarding this updated guidance.
  • If you are a Full-Service or Virtual HR client and would like our assistance with this e-Alert, please email us.

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