Today, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released new guidance regarding how employers should manage COVID-19 vaccine decisions. The complete guidance can be found here.

Here are 5 important takeaways from today's EEOC's publication: 

  1. Employers can facilitate the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine to employees without violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as an improper medical exam. "If a vaccine is administered to an employee by an employer for protection against contracting COVID-19, the employer is not seeking information about an individual's impairments or current health status and, therefore, it is not a medical examination" that violates the ADA. 
  2. Employers can require an employee to show proof of receipt of a COVID-19 vaccination. According to the EEOC: "Simply requesting proof of receipt of a COVID-19 vaccination is not likely to elicit information about a disability and, therefore, is not a disability-related inquiry.  However, subsequent employer questions, such as asking why an individual did not receive a vaccination, may elicit information about a disability" and could violate the ADA.   
  3. If an employer requires employees to provide proof that they have received a COVID-19 vaccination from a pharmacy or their own health care provider, the employer should "warn the employee not to provide any medical information as part of the proof in order to avoid implicating the ADA." 
  4. If an employee refuses to get vaccinated for COVID-19 due to an underlying medical condition or sincerely-held religious belief, the employer "should conduct an individualized assessment" to determine if the unvaccinated employee will cause a "direct threat" to the workplace, and whether a reasonable accommodation (e.g., telework) can be provided to allow the employee to continue working. 
  5. Requiring employees to get the somewhat controversial mRNA vaccine does not violate the Genetic Information Nondisclosure Act (GINA). GINA prohibits employers from using, acquiring, or disclosing genetic information. The EEOC points to CDC guidance stating that mRNA COVID-19 vaccines "do not interact with our DNA in any way" and "mRNA never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA (genetic material) is kept." See  Therefore, requiring the mRNA vaccine does not in any way implicate genetic information. 

Still have questions regarding the COVID-19 vaccine in relation to your employees?  Don't worry, we're here to help!


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