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June 23, 2021

Workplace Discrimination Laws, COVID-19 and Vaccination Incentives, Requirements

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), companies can require employees to be vaccinated and request proof of vaccination.

However, many businesses are instead, encouraging or incentivizing vaccinations. Yet, even incentivizing vaccinations can cause questions or concerns from your employees. 

According to EEOC officials, employers should keep in mind that some employees may face greater barriers to receiving a COVID-19 vaccination than others and some employees may be more likely to be negatively impacted by a vaccination incentive or requirement. 

Resources For Employees

The EEOC has put out a new resource for employees to advise them on how federal employment discrimination laws help workers:

  • who are being harassed;
  • who need extra protection against getting sick;
  • who are not being allowed to work; or
  • who need a modification of their employer’s COVID-19 safety requirements.
     

“Federal Laws Protect You Against Employment Discrimination During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” is available online.  

Resources For Employers

To assist employers, the EEOC posted updated and expanded its guidance on May 28, 2021, that especially addresses questions arising under the federal equal employment opportunity (EEO) laws when it comes to COVID-19.  

“What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws,” is available online.  

The key updates of the EEOC’s expanded guidance include:

  • Employers can require vaccinations.
  • Employers must keep vaccination info confidential.
  • Employers can incentive vaccinations.
  • Vaccination incentives should not coerce or pressure employees to reveal health information.
  • Employers can promote vaccination benefits but should respect that some employees face greater barriers.
     

The guidance also shares additional anti-discrimination information that employers should know when it comes to the pandemic; however, the EEOC notes that the information only looks at EEO factors, and that other federal, state, and local laws may come into play. 

Under the EEOC guidance, employers may:

  • Ask employees entering the workplace if they have COVID-19 or symptoms associated with COVID-19, and ask if they have been tested for COVID-19;
  • Exclude those with COVID-19, or symptoms associated with COVID-19, from the workplace; and
  • Ask only a particular employee to answer such questions, or to have her temperature taken or undergo other screening or testing, if they have a reasonable belief based on objective evidence that this person might have the disease.
     

For more information about discrimination as it pertains to COVID-19 or the vaccination, check out “What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws.”

 

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