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Employees and COVID-19 Vaccines

December 22, 2020

Now that COVID-19 vaccines have been approved for emergency use and should soon be more widely available, employers may want to offer them or require employees to get them. The Phelps law firm has provided some guidance from the EEOC on their website. Some points to note:

  • The vaccine is not a medical exam or inquiry, but screening questions are subject to ADA rules. The questions must be job related and a business necessity.
  • If administering the vaccine is voluntary, employees may choose not to answer questions and employers cannot retaliate.
  • If the vaccines are administered by a third party, an employer cannot access an employee's genetic information.
  • An employer may require proof an employee was vaccinated. If employees are not vaccinated, employees should not ask questions which could reveal disability information and ADA concerns.
  • If an employee refuses vaccination because of religious belief or disability, the employer must offer reasonable accommodation. Employers can exclude unvaccinated employees from the workplace if they pose a direct threat to others' health and safety or there is no reasonable accommodation.

Employers must also comply with state laws, OSHA standards and CDC updates. In case of doubt, consult an employment lawyer.