The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently added nine new answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) to its existing guidance on how employers should comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other fair employment laws while also observing all applicable emergency workplace safety guidelines during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Guidance for Employers
The new FAQs address mandatory workplace vaccination programs and the restrictions that federal fair employment laws place on them. In general, employers may require employees to receive COVID-19 vaccinations as long as they provide reasonable accommodations for employees who refuse to take the vaccine for medical or religious reasons.
The EEOC’s new FAQs generally clarify, among other things, that:
Employers may require employees to receive COVID-19 vaccinations;
Employers that require vaccinations may need to provide accommodations, or show that an unvaccinated employee would pose a direct threat;
Vaccination-related questions from employers must be job-related and consistent with business necessity; and
Any medical information obtained in the course of a vaccination program must be kept confidential.
Employers with 15 or more employees should become familiar with and follow the guidance provided in all of the EEOC’s FAQs about ADA compliance, and employers should ensure that they comply with state and local anti-discrimination laws as well.
While the COVID-19 vaccine is not yet available to the general public, employers should begin to plan for when there is broader access.