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Religious Discrimination and the COVID-19 Vaccine: What Employees Need to Know

Jan 8

As of January 5, 2021, New York State has opened 636 sites for COVID-19 vaccine distribution for eligible New Yorkers. However, with vaccinations to become available to the general public, employees may wonder what obligations they will have to employers if they have a religious objection to the coronavirus vaccination. If you have a religious objection to the COVID-19 vaccine, here is what you need to know.

Religious Objection To COVID-19 Vaccine

Much like other mandated vaccinations, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has guidelines for employers about the situations where employers can mandate vaccinations without running into anti-discrimination laws; they also offer guidance on accommodations should an employee have an objection to a vaccine policy in the workplace due to religious beliefs.

Reasonable accommodations must be given to an employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs, practices, or observances should such beliefs not permit vaccinations unless such accommodation poses undue hardship under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Accommodations to Religious Discrimination

While the types of accommodations an employer makes will depend on the nature of the work, there are certain baseline actions an employer may take. Such religious accommodations may include:

Depending on the nature of the situation, there may be other ways in which an employee can continue to perform their positions even without the COVID-19 vaccine, such as remote working in cases where telework has already proven unproblematic for the company.

Ultimately, these situations will be on a case-by-case basis and often require legal guidance. This is why it’s important to seek help from a trusted employee rights and discrimination attorney who can help you understand your rights and determine if legal action needs to be taken.

COVID-19 has complicated many facets of life, including employee rights. If you think your rights are being violated because of COVID-19 mandates in your workplace, Brown Kwon & Lam can help.

COVID-19 and Religious Discrimination: Brown Kwon & Lam

When you feel your religious rights are being infringed upon because of an employment policy, you have a right to say you do not want to, or cannot receive a COVID-19 vaccine. However, if your employer does not make reasonable accommodations for you, you may need legal guidance. Contact the New York employee rights attorneys of Brown Kwon & Lam today.

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