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EEOC Addresses Mandatory Vaccinations in Updated Guidance on COVID-19 and the ADA

Monday, December 21, 2020
Amber Ramirez

ADA Rules Still Apply but Do Not Prevent Safety Measures

  • Employers must follow ADA rules while observing emergency guidelines issued by federal, state and local health authorities during the pandemic. 

Employer Guidance

The EEOC’s pandemic guidance clarified that employers may:

  • Require employees to receive COVID-19 vaccinations (but may need to accommodate certain refusals); 
  • Ask employees if they have COVID-19 or its symptoms; 
  • Require employees to stay home (and to provide medical notes before returning to work) if they have COVID-19 or its symptoms; and 
  •  Screen applicants for COVID-19 symptoms after making conditional job offers.

On December 16, 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued additional answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about how employers should comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other federal fair employment laws while also observing all applicable emergency workplace safety guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic.

The new FAQs address whether employers may require employees to receive COVID-19 vaccinations. They were added to the EEOC’s guidance on March 18, 2020, and then updated several times.  

This Compliance Bulletin contains the EEOC’s updated FAQs in full, which draw from the EEOC’s existing pandemic publication, Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace and the ADA, to help employers navigate workplace issues related to the COVID-19. The nine newly added FAQs about vaccinations begin on page 19 of this document.  

Employers are subject to the ADA if they have 15 or more employees. Smaller employers may be subject to similar rules under applicable state or local laws.

Action Steps

All employers should follow the most current guidelines and suggestions for maintaining workplace safety, as issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and any applicable state or local health agencies. Employers with 15 or more employees should also become familiar with and follow the guidance provided in the EEOC’s FAQs about ADA compliance. These and all smaller employers should ensure that they comply with state and local anti-discrimination laws as well.

This Compliance Bulletin is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel for legal advice. Design ©2020 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

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