The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has issued guidance addressing employers’ ability to require their employees to receive COVID-19 vaccinations. According to the EEOC, employers may require their employees to be vaccinated except to the extent that an employee is entitled to reasonable accommodations for disability, pregnancy, and/or sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance.

Under federal and New Jersey state law, employers may be required to provide employees with reasonable accommodations based on their disability, pregnancy, and/or religious beliefs or practices unless the accommodation would pose an undue hardship upon the employer’s business. Possible accommodations include, but are not limited to, requiring the non-vaccinated employee wear a mask, social distance from co-workers and non-employees, work a modified or staggered shift, submit for periodic COVID testing, telework, or even be reassigned. When introducing a vaccination policy that requires the submission of
documentation to show confirmation of vaccination the employer should advise all employees that it will consider requests for reasonable accommodation based on the employee’s disability, pregnancy, and/or religious beliefs or practices on an individualized basis.

The EEOC also explained that employers can encourage employees and their family members to get vaccinated by providing incentives (which include rewards and penalties) so long as they are not so substantial where they could be considered coercive. The State of New Jersey has yet to issue formal guidelines on employer vaccination policies. However, it is expected that such guidance will be consistent with the EEOC’s guidance. Should you have any questions regarding your employer’s vaccination policy, please
contact the Law Offices of Damian Christian Shammas, LLC for a consultation.