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New guidance from the EEOC on COVID-19 vaccines and the workplace

Recently, the EEOC published updated guidance to address issues surrounding COVID-19 vaccines in the workplace. The guidance indicates that employers may:
• Require that all employees who are physically present in the workplace to be vaccinated for COVID-19;
• Offer incentives to employees who can prove that they have been vaccinated for COVID-19;
• Offer incentives to employees to obtain COVID-19 vaccinations, as long as the incentives are not coercive; and
• Provide employees with information about COVID-19 vaccines and the benefits of vaccination.
Employers must still comply with the reasonable accommodation provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Title VII. This applies to both vaccinated and unvaccinated employees. Employers are permitted to request or require confirmation about an employees’ vaccination status. If employers receive and maintain information about an employee’s vaccination status, they are required to keep such information confidential pursuant to the ADA.
New York has lifted many of its pandemic-related restrictions over the last few weeks, including social distancing guidelines and mask-requirements for vaccinated individuals. Individuals and business-owners may have different levels of comfort about these changes. Employers should continue open communication with their employees and customers. If you have questions about developing a vaccination policy, or concerns about how your employer is implementing such a policy, the attorneys at Smith Hoke are here to offer guidance.
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