EEOC Updates Guidance On Religious Exemptions From Employer Vaccine Requirements

Kollman & Saucier
Kollman & Saucier

On October 25, 2021,the EEOC updated its guidance on What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws.  The EEOC added six new Q&As addressing Title VII religious objections to COVID-19 vaccine mandates. 

Generally, job applicants and employees may request an exception, called a religious or reasonable accommodation, from an employer requirement that conflicts with their sincerely held religious beliefs, practices, or observances.  If an employer shows that it cannot reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs, practices, or observances without undue hardship on its operations, the employer is not required to grant the accommodation. 

The new Q&As address the following questions: 

Do employees who have a religious objection to receiving a COVID-19 vaccination need to tell their employer?  If so, is there specific language that must be used under Title VII?

Does an employer had to accept an employee’s assertion of a religious objection to COVID-19 vaccination at face value?  May the employer ask for additional information?

How does an employer show that it would be an undue hardship to accommodate an employee’s request for religious accommodation? 

Must an employer provide the religious accommodation preferred by an employee if there are other possible accommodations that also are effective in eliminating the religious conflict and do not cause an undue hardship under Title VII?

If an employer grants some employees a religious accommodation from a COVID-19 vaccination requirement because of sincerely held religious beliefs, does it have to grant the requests of all employees who seek an accommodation because of sincerely held religious beliefs?

If an employer grants a religious accommodation to an employee, can the employer later reconsider it?

Click here or on the link above for the EEOC’s answers.

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