The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said that companies can mandate COVID-19 vaccinations, with some exceptions for disabilities and religion

By Julie Mazziotta
May 31, 2021 12:38 PM
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A person getting vaccinated
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U.S. employers are allowed to require COVID-19 vaccinations before their employees can return to the workplace, a government agency said Friday.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said in a statement that their laws "do not prevent an employer from requiring all employees physically entering the workplace to be vaccinated for COVID-19," though there are some exemptions for people with disabilities — including pregnancy — or those that claim their religion prevents them from getting vaccinated.

However, they will need to show that they are not posing "an undue hardship on the operation of the employer's business" by not getting vaccinated.

Companies are also allowed to provide incentives to encourage their employees to get vaccinated, though they must not be "coercive."

"The updated technical assistance released today addresses frequently asked questions concerning vaccinations in the employment context," EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows said in a statement. "The EEOC will continue to clarify and update our COVID-19 technical assistance to ensure that we are providing the public with clear, easy to understand, and helpful information."

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The EEOC also said that it is not a violation of privacy laws for companies to ask their employees if they have been vaccinated against COVID-19, though they are required to keep that information confidential.

As of May 31, more than half of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, including nearly 60% of the eligible population, those aged 12 and up. Of those groups, 40.7% of the total population are now fully vaccinated and 48.2% of the eligible population, according to the Centers for Disease Control.