The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued new guidance last week and said businesses can require that their employees get the COVID-19 vaccine without violating federal laws.
Other federal laws including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that prohibits discrimination based on disability, as well as state and local laws may impact whether businesses can mandate their employees to get the vaccine, according to updated guidance posted on the EEOC’s website on May 28.
Employers will also have to make “reasonable accommodations” for workers who can’t or won’t get vaccinated due to religious reasons, pregnancy, or a disability, the EEOC said.
“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,” said the updated guidance. Meanwhile, laws that are outside the agency’s purview might “place additional restrictions on employers,” it added.
From the EEOC’s viewpoint, the guidance added, “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.”
“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.”
The EEOC’s latest guidance was cited by a Houston Methodist hospital spokesperson, who was responding to a question from The Epoch Times on Sunday about a lawsuit filed by 117 employees of the hospital who alleged that the company mandated that they receive the vaccine or would face termination.
“Methodist Hospital is forcing its employees to be human ‘guinea pigs’ as a condition for continued employment,” their lawsuit stated. They wrote that the hospital’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate “requires the employee to subject themselves to medical experimentation as a prerequisite to feeding their families.”
Hospital CEO Marc Boom, in a response to the lawsuit, asserted that most of the employees have received vaccines.
“It is unfortunate that the few remaining employees who refuse to get vaccinated and put our patients first are responding in this way,” Boom said, according to a spokesperson for the hospital system. “It is legal for health care institutions to mandate vaccines, as we have done with the flu vaccine since 2009.”
COVID-19 is the illness caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, also known as the coronavirus.