Today, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued updated and expanded technical assistance related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The expanded technical assistance addresses questions about religious objections to employer COVID-19 vaccine requirements and how they interact with federal equal employment opportunity (“EEO”) laws.  The key updates to the technical assistance include:

  • Federal EEO laws 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 ADA and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other EEO considerations.  Other laws, not in EEOC’s jurisdiction, may place additional restrictions on employers.  From an EEO perspective, employers should keep in mind that because some individuals or demographic groups may face greater barriers to receiving a COVID-19 vaccination than others, some employees may be more likely to be negatively impacted by a vaccination requirement.
  • Federal EEO laws 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 (not the employer) in the community, such as a pharmacy, personal health care provider or public clinic. If employers choose to obtain vaccination information from their employees, employers must keep vaccination information confidential pursuant to the ADA.
  • Employers that are administering vaccines to their employees may 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.
  • Employers may provide employees and their family members with information to educate them about COVID-19 vaccines and raise awareness about the benefits of vaccination. The technical assistance highlights federal government resources available to those seeking more information about how to get vaccinated

A copy of the EEOC’s updated COVID-19 technical assistance can be found here.

For more information, please contact Lisa Scidurlo at lmsc@stevenslee.com, Joseph Hofmann at jph@stevenslee.com, Theresa Zechman at tmz@stevenslee.com, Daniel Sobol at djso@stevenslee.com, Rachelle Highland at rgh@stevenslee.com or reach out to the Stevens & Lee attorney with whom you regularly work.