The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released updated guidance addressing vaccine issues in the employment setting. This guidance clarifies that employers may require employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19 in order to physically enter the workplace provided reasonable accommodations are offered to employees with disabilities or sincerely held religious beliefs that prevent them from being vaccinated. Even with this guidance, employers will have to consider the disparate impact that requiring vaccinations may have on other protected classes such as race, color, age and national origin.
In connection with requiring vaccinations, employers may ask for proof of vaccination. Vaccination status is medical information and must be kept confidential and stored apart from an employee’s personnel file.
Employers may offer incentives to employees and their families to get vaccinated, but the incentive must not be so substantial as to be coercive. Employers may also provide employees information to educate them and their family members about the benefits of being vaccinated for COVID-19.
Employers should review their policies and practices on vaccinations as they open their physical workplaces and bring employees back to in-person employment. The updated guidance may be accessed by clicking here.