The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) posted an update on May 28, 2021 regarding the ability for employers to require the COVID-19 vaccine and incentives.
While EEO laws do not prevent employers from requiring the COVID-19 vaccination, the EEOC’s position is that the employer may still have to provide accommodation to an employee who does not want to get vaccinated because of a disability or religious belief, unless the employer can show that providing an accommodation would pose an undue hardship. In addition, the EEOC also highlighted that because “some individuals or demographic groups may face greater barriers to receiving a COVID-19 vaccination than others, some employees may be more likely to be negatively impacted by a vaccination requirement.”
The EEOC confirmed that under certain circumstances employers can provide incentives to employees to encourage vaccination. The EEOC cautioned that incentives and penalties may not be “so substantial as to be coercive” and the EEOC highlighted that employees should not feel pressured into providing protected medical information. However, the employer may offer an incentive for employees to provide documentation from a third party who is not acting on the employer’s behalf that the employee or their family member has been vaccinated.
Please be aware that the CDC’s guide was updated on May 13, 2021 and the EEOC is still considering the impact of the CDC’s impacts. If you need further guidance on this issue or other employee relations issues, contact Southwestern HR Consulting at swhrc.com/contact.
Written by | Magdalena Vigil-Tullar
HR Consultant | MBA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, CLRP
Phone: 505-270-7494 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org