COVID-19 Vaccinations and the Workplace | What You Should Know About New EEOC Guidelines

The battle over COVID-19 vaccinations and people’s personal beliefs and/or medical situations continues to be a controversial topic across the nation. In California, almost 60% of the state’s population has been vaccinated, but  experts say about 85% of Americans will need to be vaccinated to get the pandemic under control.

In Texas, a U.S. federal judge recently dismissed a lawsuit brought by 117 workers at a Houston hospital over its COVID-19 immunization protocols. Houston Methodist Hospital has mandated that all employees must be vaccinated. In a five-page ruling, the judge upheld the hospital’s vaccination policy saying, “the requirement broke no federal law,” and that “it was a choice made to keep staff, patients and their families safer.”

The lead plaintiff in the case argued that if she was fired for refusing a vaccine, it should be considered wrongful termination because she believes the vaccines are “experimental and dangerous.”

Houston Methodist has been among the first hospitals in the nation to require staff to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, and the judge’s decision marked an early test of how challenges to similar bans may play out in the future.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, it is legal for employers to mandate that employees need to get vaccinated against COVID-19 with certain exceptions. Here’s a summary of the most recent EEOC guidelines for vaccination requirements in the workplace:

  • Federal EEO laws do not prevent an employer from requiring all employees entering the workplace to be vaccinated for COVID-19(this does not include those who meet exception requirements.)
  • Employers are still required to provide accommodations for employees who are exempt from mandatory immunization based on the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and other federal laws.
  • Employers should keep in mind that some individuals or demographic groups may face greater barriers to receiving a COVID-19 vaccination than others, and some employees may be more likely to be negatively impacted by a vaccination requirement.
  • Federal EEO laws do not prevent or limit employers from offering incentives to employees for getting vaccinated as long as the incentives are not coercive.
  • Employers may provide employees and their family members with information to educate them about COVID-19 vaccines and raise awareness about the benefits of vaccination. 

 

Experienced Employment Law Attorney, Mediator, Arbitrator, Investigator, Legal and Media Commentator 

Twice-named a U.S. News Best Lawyer in America for employment and labor law, Angela Reddock-Wright is an employment and labor law attorney, mediator, arbitrator, and certified workplace and Title IX investigator (AWI-CH) in Los Angeles, CA. Known as the “Workplace Guru,” Angela is an influencer and leading authority on employment, workplace/HR, Title IX, hazing, and bullying issues.

Angela is a regular legal and media commentator and analyst and has appeared on such media outlets as Good Morning America, Entertainment Tonight, Law and Crime with Brian Ross, Court TV, CNN, NewsNation, ABC News, CBS News, Fox 11 News, KTLA-5, the Black News Channel, Fox Soul – The Black Report, NPR, KPCC, Airtalk-89.3, KJLH Front Page with Dominique DiPrima, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the LA Times, Forbes.com, Yahoo! Entertainment, People Magazine, Essence Magazine, the Los Angeles Sentinel, LA Focus, Daily Journal, Our Weekly and the Wave Newspapers.

Angela is a member of the panel of distinguished mediators and arbitrators with Judicate West, a California dispute resolution company.  She also owns her own dispute resolution law firm, the Reddock Law Group of Los Angeles, specializing in the mediation, arbitration, and investigation of employment discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and other workplace claims, along with Title IX, sexual harassment, assault, and misconduct conduct cases, along with hazing and bullying cases in K-12 schools, colleges and universities, fraternities and sororities; fire, police and other public safety agencies and departments; and other private and public sector workplaces.

For more information regarding resources for employers, businesses, and employees during this time, connect with her on LinkedIn for new updates, or contact her here. You may also follow her on Instagram.

This communication is not legal advice. It is educational only. For legal advice, consult with an experienced employment law attorney in your state or city.

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