Can your employer require you to be vaccinated? Can’t return to work due to COVID-19? Read below to learn more:
Wondering if your employer can require you to take the vaccine?
Yes, your employer may require you to get a vaccine in order to return to work or you may be laid off and/or terminated.
Like everything else in the law, there are exceptions! For example, employees may not be required to take the vaccine of they have a Medical Accommodation due to a disability covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act known as the ADA. Also, employees may not be required to be vaccinated of they have a Religious Accommodation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Recently, the EEOC has announced that an exception the required vaccine rule can apply to pregnant employees whom have been instructed by their doctors.
What is very important is that exception and/or accommodation are not automatic, employees must take action to get the accommodation approved and submit documentation. Just because your doctor submits a note or you place the employer on notice of your religion, does not mean that you will get the exception. The Employees and Employers must enter into the interactive process to determine how and if the exception will work. If the accommodation request is an undue hardship on the employer, the request may be denied, but just because a request may cost more money to an employer is not a sufficient defense. That is why it’s a good idea to speak with an employment lawyer prior to making any such request.
Recovering from COVID?
Long Term COVID-19 is the term given to people suffering from various symptoms even after months of being infected with coronavirus. People suffering from long term COVID-19 may be entitled to reasonable accommodation under the ADA, i.e., Americans with Disabilities Act. Examples of reasonable accommodations may be flexibility in the workplace, tools that can allow you to work during your recovery, working from home, etc. The accommodations may be temporary or long-term accommodations.
The best way to determine if your eligible for an accommodation is by requesting one in writing. Having a doctor’s note is also helpful but not a guarantee that you will be given an accommodation. Employees and Employers must work together to determine if a reasonable accommodation exist that works for both parties. Some companies have an accommodation department with forms, other times a simple request and explanation of your situation is sufficient. The EEOC (The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) and the DOL (U.S. Department of Labor) have recently published articles providing more guidance on this new workplace issue. Click the links below to learn more but remember, having an employment lawyer on your side increases your chances of getting an accommodation and protecting your job.
An additional note, you may also be entitled to medical leave under the FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) which unpaid leave but if your company offers short term or long-term disability, you may be entitled to time off that is paid.
If you need help
with requesting an accommodation or medical leave, and/or you have been
terminated/retaliated against for requesting an accommodation or medical leave,
speak to an employment lawyer.