The rise of the Delta variant of COVID-19 throughout the United States has more people scrambling for a vaccine, but some are still hesitant to receive it. Due to the United States population only being about 50% vaccinated, employers are wondering if they can require their employees to be vaccinated and how that might affect their company.
As employers try to keep their employees as safe as possible, how will required vaccinations affect their workplace?
Here are the legalities surrounding required vaccinations in the workplace.
Employers may require their employees to get a COVID-10 vaccine, and they may even prevent them from entering the workplace if they refuse. Employers may also require proof of vaccination. Although they may lose a few employees, requiring a vaccine makes the workplace safer and increases the vaccination rates in the United States. However, employers must be careful with how they handle the process, as the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) prevents workplace discrimination.
The Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 puts limits on employers, making it mandatory that employees receive medical examinations that reveal private information about an employee’s physical or mental conditions. However, in December 2020, the commission stated that a COVID-19 vaccination requirement does not raise these concerns. As long as the employer requires every employee to get the vaccination and show proof equally (with some exceptions relating to disability or religious accommodations), an employer cannot be accused of discrimination.
The commission stated that requiring an employee to show proof of vaccination is not a disability-related inquiry: “There are many reasons that may explain why an employee has not been vaccinated, which may or may not be disability-related,” the commission said. Section K.3 of the guidance, however, goes on to explain that questions from the employer, such as asking why the employee did not receive a vaccination, “may elicit information about a disability and would be subject to the pertinent ADA standard that they be ‘job-related and consistent with business necessity.’”
If an employee requests an exemption from the vaccination requirement due to disability, religious beliefs, or medical grounds, an employer should provide reasonable accommodations for the employee to continue working. The EEOC guidance states that even if an unvaccinated employee poses a threat to the workplace, the employer cannot fire them unless the employer cannot provide a reasonable accommodation to reduce the risk to others. They may require masks, working from home, or other alternatives.
ClearStar and Medical Screening
The ADA requires that any mandatory medical test of employees be “job-related and consistent with business necessity,” including in the event of a COVID-19 test. If an employer determines that an employee poses a risk of exposure to or the spreading of COVID-19, they may require them to take a COVID-19 test before returning to work. Employers may also screen job applicants for symptoms of COVID-19, as long as they are doing so for every other person entering the same job. As long as they are accommodating to the provisions of Title VII and the ADA, employers may also require their employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
If an employer wants to test an employee for COVID, ClearStar provides a CRL Rapid Response™ kit — a saliva-based molecular diagnostic test — to determine whether the virus is active or not. The results are available within 24-48 hours, on average. Keep in mind that all COVID-19 screening results must be kept confidential.
To place an order for a COVID-19 test, contact the ClearStar Medical Information Services office at 321.821.3383 or [email protected] To ask about background checks and other medical screening services, call +1.888.982.4648 or visit https://www.clearstar.net/contact/.