Recently, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) published updated COVID-19 technical assistance. The agency provided guidance on vaccinations and discussed inquiries about vaccination status under federal equal employment opportunity laws.
The EEOC also announced a new resource for job applicants and employees that explains the federal employment discrimination laws they are protected under during the pandemic. The extended technical assistance explains guidance the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act as they relate to individuals that may be asked to supply a vaccination confirmation.
Overall, the EEOC's critical updates can be summed up as follows:
- There are no EEO laws that prevent an employer from requiring all employees physically in the workplace to be vaccinated for COVID-19. Companies are obligated to comply with the reasonable accommodation provisions of the ADA and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other EEO considerations.
- Employers may propose incentives to workers willing to verify vaccination from a third party in the community, such as a pharmacy, personal health care provider, or public clinic. Employers must keep vaccination information confidential under the ADA.
- Companies offering vaccines may motivate employees to be vaccinated, as long as the incentives are not coercive.
- Employers may provide resources to inform employees about COVID-19 vaccines and raise awareness about the benefits of vaccination.
The new resource presents necessary information on how federal employment discrimination laws assist workers who are being harassed in the workplace, require further safeguard against becoming ill, who are not being permitted to work, or need an adjustment to their employer's COVID-19 safety requirements.