Exemptions from Mandatory Vaccinations

If you are considering mandating vaccinations, there are some things you need to know. Employees may get an exemption from an employer mandate if they are seeking religious or disability accommodations. These matters can be quite complex, but generally, you may ask a person seeking a disability accommodation to provide a certification from their doctor which should outline the recommended accommodations.

Harder to prove is religious accommodations. Employers are required to accommodate an employee’s “sincerely held” religious belief, observance, or practice. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has outlined provisions for religious accommodation, which you can find here. However, with the proliferation of online churches and organizations that provide signed exemption letters, it can be hard to distinguish whether the employee has a “sincerely held” religious belief, observance, or practice.

EEOC guidance establishes that an employer can consider these factors in denying a religious accommodation:

• The accommodation is too costly
• It would decrease workplace efficiency
• The accommodation infringes on the rights of other employees
• The accommodation requires other employees to do more than their share of hazardous or burdensome work
• The proposed accommodation conflicts with another law or regulation
• It compromises workplace safety

However, employers DO need to tread carefully, and it is recommended that you work with your labor counsel to come up with the best solution for your business.


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