EEOC Issues Guidance on COVID-19 Vaccine Requirements and Workplace Incentives

EEOC Updated Guidance

On Friday May 28, 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated its COVID-19 guidance for employers. Among the updates included are that employers may require employees get the COVID-19 vaccination, as well as offer incentives to employees who voluntarily receive the COVID-19 vaccination and/or voluntarily provide documentation of such.

The EEOC states that the federal EEO laws do not prevent an employer from requiring all employees physically entering the workplace to be vaccinated for COVID-19, subject to the reasonable accommodation provisions of Title VII and the ADA, as well as other EEO considerations. Title VII and the ADA will still require that an employer provide reasonable accommodation to those employees who, because of a disability or a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance, do not get vaccinated for COVID-19, unless providing an accommodation would pose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer’s business.

For incentivizing the COVID-19 vaccine, the EEOC states that requesting proof of the vaccination is not a “disability-related inquiry” or an “unlawful request” under federal anti-discrimination laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA). The EEOC also indicates that vaccine programs at the workplace are allowed, but cautions that the perks cannot be substantial enough to be ‘coercive.’ The EEOC did not, however, provide any examples of what may be considered ‘coercive.’

Employers are encouraged to review applicable state and local laws and regulations, in addition to this federal guidance, before implementing a vaccine requirement or incentive.

Please note this current global emergency and applicable laws, regulations, proposals, guidance, advice, and responses change rapidly. We strive to keep you up to date as much as possible, but this blog article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Contact myHRcounsel with questions concerning specific facts and circumstances.