EEOC Updates Guidance on Vaccinations, and Yes, Employers Can Require Employees to Be Vaccinated

Written on .

Late last week, just before most of us enjoyed a long holiday weekend, the EEOC issued some additional guidance addressing questions arising under the federal equal employment opportunity laws in regard to employees and COVID vaccinations. Considering that the distribution of vaccines started in February, the EEOC is a little late to the party, but better late than never. Employers have had a lot of questions about employees and vaccines, and this latest guidance answers some of them.

The key updates to the EEOC’s previous technical assistance are summarized below:

  • Federal EEO laws do not prevent an employer from requiring all employees physically entering the workplace to be vaccinated for COVID-19, so long as employers comply with the reasonable accommodation provisions of the ADA and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other EEO considerations.  Other laws, not in EEOC’s jurisdiction, may place additional restrictions on employers.  From an EEO perspective, employers should keep in mind that because some individuals or demographic groups may face greater barriers to receiving a COVID-19 vaccination than others, 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 to voluntarily provide documentation or other confirmation of vaccination obtained from a third party (not the employer) in the community, such as a pharmacy, personal health care provider, or public clinic. If employers choose to obtain vaccination information from their employees, employers must keep vaccination information confidential pursuant to the ADA.
  • Employers that are administering vaccines to their employees may offer incentives for employees to be vaccinated, as long as the incentives are not coercive. Because vaccinations require employees to answer pre-vaccination disability-related screening questions, a very large incentive could make employees feel pressured to disclose protected medical information. [However, employers may not offer incentives to employees for their family members to be vaccinated, nor can they penalize them if their family members refuse to get vaccinated, as this may violate GINA. ]

It seems that more employers have chosen to offer incentives to employees in exchange for vaccination or proof of vaccination rather than require vaccination, so this new guidance is welcome insofar as it gives the EEOC’s blessing to incentives for vaccines.

Pro Tip: Employers must keep all information regarding employee vaccinations confidential. Indeed, the best practice is to place this information in secure confidential employee medical files, which must be maintained separately from employee personnel files.

Principal | Email: kjj@wimlaw.com
Kathleen J. Jennings is a principal in the Atlanta office of Wimberly, Lawson, Steckel, Schneider, & Stine, P.C. She defends employers in employment matters, such as sexual harassment, discrimination, Wage and Hour, OSHA, restrictive covenants, and other employment litigation and provides training and counseling to employers in employment matters.

Get Email Updates

Receive newsletters and alerts directly in your email inbox. Sign up below.

Recent Content

Women signing papers at a table indoors

Trump Regulation Requiring EEOC to Conciliate Rescinded

The current administration has moved rapidly to eliminate the Trump administrators, even during the terms of their employment, and to eli...
Port-au-Prince, Haiti - Outdoors, houses on the hillside

TDPP Extended for Six Countries

More than 400,000 citizens of six foreign countries who live and work in the U.S. under Temporary Protected Status (TPS) are able to stay...
a group of people protesting outdoors, with jackets in the cold

Issues Related to Safety and Work-related Issues, Pertaining to Walk-outs, Sit-ins, Protests, Etc

The current situation is an appropriate time to remind employers of their obligations under federal laws dealing with not only safety pro...
Covid Vaccine Clinic, Parking Sign, Outdoors

Biden Issues Executive Order Attempting to Require Covid Vaccination & Testing

In what many consider President Biden's most bold move regarding COVID-19, he issued an Executive Order on September 9, 2021 in an effort...
candles burning on a rack indoors in the dark

Dealing With Religious Objections to a COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement

In our discussions of rules mandating COVID-19 vaccines, we’ve mentioned the two possible exemptions to a vaccine requirement: disability...
yellow rubber gloves on hands reach high

Protected Concerted Activity in the Era of COVID-19: What Employers Need to Know

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is one of the federal agencies that many employers do not have on their radar. The NLRB is most...
  • Home
  • Articles
  • EEOC Updates Guidance on Vaccinations, and Yes, Employers Can Require Employees to Be Vaccinated

Wimberly, Lawson, Steckel, Schneider & Stine

3400 Peachtree Road, Ste 400 / Lenox Towers / Atlanta, GA 30326 /404.365.0900

Where Experience Counts


Thank you for visiting the firm's website. Please note that this website is intended for general information purposes only and does not constitute an offer of representation or create an attorney-client relationship with the firm. The firm welcomes receipt of electronic mail but the act of sending electronic mail alone does not create an attorney-client relationship. You may reproduce materials available at this site for your own personal use and for non-commercial distribution. All copies must include the firm's copyright notice.

© 2020 Wimberly, Lawson, Steckel, Schneider & Stine P.C. | Site By JSM