The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has said now for the second time that companies can make their employees who are returning to the job get vaccinated against COVID-19. Yet, very few companies have moved forward with a mandatory vaccine requirement as they debate how to restore normal operations prior to the pandemic.
Some companies are skeptical of setting mandates until the vaccines have received full approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). At the same time, many Americans are still weighing the risks of vaccines with only emergency use authorization.
In addition, these businesses must also wade through the lengthy legal considerations the EEOC has implemented before mandating vaccines.
EEOC Vaccine Legal Considerations
In order for employers to be in good legal standing with their vaccine mandates, they must abide by the following legislations:
- Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)
- Civil Rights Act of 1964
Under the ADA, if an employee has a medical reason to not get the vaccine, the employer not only must respect that, but keep that information confidential.
Further, if an employee has a religious objection to vaccinations, the employer must also offer reasonable accommodations in those situations.
The Potential Issue with Incentives
While offering reasonable accommodation for those who cannot get the vaccine is part of the legal conundrum, employers must also tread lightly when offering incentives for those who get the vaccine.
The EEOC has offered employers guidelines, saying that a company could offer inducements as long as they were not “coercive,” or so strong that they made participation essentially involuntary.
However, what constitutes a coercive incentive has yet to be legally challenged or defined.
In addition, there are growing workplace policies saying that fully vaccinated workers can go mask-free. However, who will monitor who is and is not wearing a mask without asking health questions or private information can also be difficult.
The COVID-19 pandemic is not short of legal problems, even now as there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel. But there is help for those New York employees who need it.
COVID-19 Legal Question? Contact Brown Kwon & Lam.
If you have a legal question about your employer’s COVID-19 related policies and mandates, contact us.
For more information about COVID-19 and workers’ rights, visit our website.