With numerous COVID-19 vaccines in development, the question arises whether employers will be able to require their employees to receive the vaccine as a condition of employment.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has stated in its latest version of its guidance, updated on March 21, 2020, after its declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic, that an employer cannot require all employees to get a flu vaccine. However, “employers should consider simply encouraging employees to get the influenza vaccine rather than requiring them to take it.” The EEOC also emphasized that there is no vaccine currently available for COVID-19, suggesting that the agency may revisit the issue once a vaccine is available.
The EEOC guidance also makes clear that employers will need to consider making exceptions to any vaccination requirement for employees: (1) under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) if an employee raises a potential health concern with the vaccine; or (2) under Title VII if the employee raises a religious objection to the vaccine.
The EEOC and OSHA may issue further guidance. There may also be guidance from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (“ACIP”), which is a committee within the CDC made up of medical and public health experts who develop recommendations on the use of vaccines in the United States. Many state and local governments rely on the ACIP’s recommendations in developing vaccine mandates, such as those for public schools.
The ACIP provides annual recommendations regarding flu vaccines and is likely to make recommendations regarding any COVID vaccine. Based on the ACIP’s guidance, it’s possible that states may mandate the COVID vaccine for certain categories of employees, such as essential workers.
Do You Need Legal Assistance?
If you believe your rights are being violated by an employer illegally insisting that you get a COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of employment, reach out to Haeggquist & Eck, LLP for assistance. We can help employees hold their employers accountable for violating their rights on an individual level or as a class-actions if the employer’s violations affect more than one individual.
Learn more about what we can do for you during a free initial case evaluation. Schedule yours with us today by calling (619) 342-8000 or by filling out our online contact form.