Many Governor’s across the U.S. are informing employer’s that they can request their employees to receive COVID-19 vaccinations as a condition of their employment. In response, many employees are questioning such requests on the grounds of medical disability and religious practices. To help clarify matters, we would like to highlight two Q&As from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s website.
If an employer requires vaccinations when they are available, how should it respond to an employee who indicates that he or she is unable to receive a COVID-19 vaccination because of a sincerely held religious practice or belief?
Once an employer is on notice that an employee’s sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance prevents the employee from receiving the vaccination, the employer must provide a reasonable accommodation for the religious belief, practice, or observance unless it would pose an undue hardship under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Courts have defined “undue hardship” under Title VII as having more than a de minimis cost or burden on the employer.
What happens if an employer cannot exempt or provide a reasonable accommodation to an employee who cannot comply with a mandatory vaccine policy because of a disability or sincerely held religious practice or belief?
If an employee cannot get vaccinated for COVID-19 because of a disability or sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance, and there is no reasonable accommodation possible, then it would be lawful for the employer to exclude the employee from the workplace. This does not mean the employer may automatically terminate the worker. Employers will need to determine if any other rights apply under the EEO laws or other federal, state, and local authorities.
Contact Rossi Vucinovich PC for Help!
If you have any questions regarding COVID-19 vaccinations, please contact us today. Rossi Vucinovich PC has been helping railroad employees and their families for over 50 years. We are dedicated to helping injured railroad workers obtain the benefits they need to treat their injuries, pay their bills, and continue supporting their families. Please contact us today for the type of help you deserve.