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With Covid-19 vaccines becoming available, many businesses are hoping that a return to normal is on the horizon. Some employers are even weighing whether to mandate vaccines for their employees. Until recently, there were still many questions about whether an employer could implement such a policy. However, on December 16, 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued its first guidance regarding Covid-19 vaccines, answering these important questions. These are the important takeaways from the EEOC’s recent guidance:

  1. Employers can require that employees receive the COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of returning to, or remaining in, the workplace.
  2. However, if employees who, due to medical disabilities or sincerely-held religious beliefs, decline or refuse to receive the vaccine, employers must attempt to accommodate these employees.
  3. If an employer determines, based on objective evidence, that the presence of an unvaccinated employee presents a direct threat to the health and safety of others in the workplace and that threat cannot be reduced or eliminated through a reasonable accommodation, the employer can exclude the employee from the workplace.
  4. If an employer excludes an unvaccinated employee from the workplace due to the perceived direct threat based on his or her presence in the workplace, the employer may not automatically terminate the employee, but instead must look into whether other accommodations can be provided. One example of such accommodations would be allowing the unvaccinated employee to work from home if possible.

While the EEOC’s guidance has clarified many questions surrounding mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations, there are still other considerations employers must take into account. If you are considering requiring your employees to get vaccinated before returning to work contact Ross Hamilton at rhamilton@tuggleduggins.com or (336) 271-5279, Nathan Duggins at nduggins@tuggleduggins.com or (336)271-5246, Denis Jacobson at djacobson@tuggleduggins.com or 336-271-5242, or Matt Hoyt at mhoyt@tuggleduggins.com or (336) 271-5203 to help ensure your policy complies with all applicable laws.

© 2020 Tuggle Duggins P.A. All Rights Reserved. The purpose of this bulletin is to provide a general summary of significant legal developments. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or a recommended course of action in any given situation. It is not intended to be, and should not be, relied upon by the recipient in making decisions of a legal nature. Moreover, information contained in this bulletin may have changed subsequent to its publication. This bulletin does not create an attorney-client relationship between Tuggle Duggins P.A. and the recipient. Therefore, please consult legal counsel before making any decisions or taking any action concerning the issues discussed herein.

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