Can employers require COVID vaccine? EEOC says vaccination guidelines OK

Businesses can request their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 without breaking the laws of the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency said.

Companies can also offer employees incentives to get vaccinated or to document the vaccination “as long as the incentives are not mandatory,” the EEOC said in a press release on Friday.

The updated EEOC guidelines indicate that employers must make “reasonable accommodation” for workers who are not vaccinated because of a disability, religious belief or pregnancy.

The agency also noted that other federal, state, and local laws could come into play.

“The updated technical assistance released today addresses frequently asked questions about vaccination in the employment context,” said Charlotte A. Burrows, Chair of the EEOC, in a statement. “EEOC will continue to refine and update our technical support for COVID-19 to ensure we provide clear, easy-to-understand and helpful information to the public.”

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The fourth change also doesn’t prevent companies from asking about COVID vaccine status

Legal experts say federal laws don’t prevent companies from asking customers or employees about their vaccination status, despite social media posts claiming the opposite.

The posts circulated widely on Instagram that month cited excerpts from the Fourth Amendment and the 1964 Civil Rights Act to falsely claim that a company requiring proof of vaccination or refusing entry based on vaccination status was a “violation of your privacy and Your Property Rights ”that are protected by federal law.

The posts claimed that the fourth amendment protected individuals from companies asking for vaccines because it “protects people’s right to be safe from unreasonable searches and seizures in their people, homes, papers and effects”.

However, legal experts say the change specifically relates to searches and seizures by the government rather than private entities.

“The fourth change only applies to government searches and seizures, and certainly not to companies that require proof of vaccination,” said Lawrence Gostin, a law professor at Georgetown University who specializes in public health law.

Contributor: Associated Press

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