From time to time throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Equal Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), who is tasked with overseeing and administering federal anti-discrimination laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), has issued guidance to employers seeking to smartly balance compliance with federal laws and regulations against the need to keep workers, customers and visitors to their businesses safe. With more businesses re-opening their doors and vaccines readily available, the EEOC released updated guidance to help struggling employers.
In particular, the EEOC confirmed that:
- Employers can require all employees physically entering their workplace to first be vaccinated against COVID-19 so long as exceptions or reasonable accommodations are made for, without limitation, the religious objections and health consideration of individual employees.
- Employers can offer reasonable, non-coercive incentives to employees to become vaccinated.
- Employers can ask employees whether or not they are vaccinated, but should keep such information confidential.
- Employers may provide employees information to help educate them about the COVID-19 vaccines and raise awareness of the benefits of vaccination.
Notably, the EEOC’s latest guidance was drafted before the CDC updated its recommendations for masks, which update indicated that it was permissible for vaccinated persons to go mask free indoors (with some exceptions) but continued to recommend that masks be worn indoors by non-vaccinated individuals. Further guidance from the EEOC is likely to be issued in the upcoming weeks related to the CDC’s ever-evolving guidance. In the meantime, however, employers with questions or concerns are well-advised to contact the attorneys at Law Firm Carolinas for further information and assistance.