COVID-19: Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions CMA has received during the COVID-19 outbreak. By default, the most recent answers will appear up top. You can also filter the FAQ by category. We will update this resource regularly.

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How should an employer who has instituted a mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policy respond to an employee's disability-related concerns about receiving the vaccine?

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The ADA allows an employer to have a qualification standard, such as a vaccine requirement, that includes “a requirement that an individual shall not pose a direct threat to the health or safety of individuals in the workplace.”  However, if a safety-based qualification standard, such as a vaccination requirement, disqualifies or tends to disqualify an individual with a disability, the employer must show that an unvaccinated employee would pose a direct threat due to a “significant risk of substantial harm to the health or safety of the individual or others that cannot be eliminated or reduced by reasonable accommodation.” (See 29 C.F.R. 1630.2(r).) The EEOC recommends that employers conduct an individualized four-factor risk assessment in determining whether a direct threat exists, to include:

  1. The duration of the risk;
  2. The nature and severity of the potential harm;
  3. The likelihood that the potential harm will occur; and
  4. The imminence of the potential harm

Employers should be mindful that, because the direct threat analysis requires a case-by-case assessment, determinations may change over time as public health guidelines continue to evolve. If an employee who cannot be vaccinated due to disability poses a direct threat to the workplace, the employer cannot exclude the employee from the workplace, or take any other adverse action, "unless there is no way to provide a reasonable accommodation (absent undue hardship) that would eliminate or reduce this risk so the unvaccinated employee does not pose a direct threat."

Finally, the EEOC guidance states that if an employee's inability to be vaccinated poses a direct that cannot be mitigated to an acceptable level, the employer can exclude the employee from physically entering the workplace, but cannot terminate automatically the employer without first considering if other rights apply under the EEO laws or other federal, state and local authorities.

| Categories: Labor and Personnel, Vaccine | Return

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