Are you wondering if you can ask your employees to prove that they've had their COVID vaccinations? Many people receive CDC vaccine cards that show the date and type of COVID vaccine received. Wouldn't it be easy to ask to see these cards?
Maybe not. First, we need to know if your employees are even required to get the vaccine. Second, we will discuss whether you can require proof of vaccination or not, especially when some vaccine sites don't supply CDC cards.
Are your employees required to receive a vaccine?
Arguments According to Our February 4, 2021 Blog Post
In a previous blog post, we discussed whether or not you can require your employees to get a COVID vaccine. At the time, there were arguments for requiring it and against requiring it, although the legality was not yet established. Some of the information under its "In Favor of Requiring the Vaccine" section references the Americans with Disabilities Act. This is relevant to the administration of a vaccine, not when inquiring about medical information.
Current Mandates According to the CDC
This page on the CDC's website now addresses employees by saying, "The federal government does not mandate (require) vaccination for individuals. For some healthcare workers or essential employees, a state or local government or employer, for example, may require or mandate that workers be vaccinated as a matter of state or other law. Check with your employer to see if they have any rules that apply to you."
As the owner of your business, you should know if your employees are required to have COVID vaccines. If you haven't heard about a mandate for your business or industry, then there may not be one. You can get more information about the Workplace Vaccination Program here.
What information can you request from your employees?
According to HR Professionals
An HR solution that CSI Accounting & Payroll provides, HR Support Center, answered the question of employers asking for proof of their employees' COVID vaccines by referencing the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Civil Rights Act. Lawsuits may be in your future if you violate an employee's protections under these acts.
The expert says that you can only ask for the employee's name, the date of their vaccine, and their provider's name. Any other medical information can be classified as a disability-related inquiry, which can be a very difficult territory to navigate. As with all medical concerns for your employees, your confidentiality is key.
What are the exceptions for a mandated workplace vaccine?
Protections From the Americans with Disabilities Act
For more information about disability-related inquiries, check out this page about the ADA, which details which subjects you can ask about. It reminds you that "Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (the 'ADA') limits an employer's ability to make disability-related inquiries or require medical examinations at three stages: pre-offer, post-offer, and during employment."
Protections From the Civil Rights Act
The HR expert above says that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also protects people if their disabilities or religious beliefs prevent them from complying with a mandated vaccine in your workplace. It says, "Discriminatory practices prohibited... All personnel actions affecting employees... shall be made free from any discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin."
"The term 'religion' includes all aspects of religious observance and practice, as well as belief, unless an employer demonstrates that he is unable to reasonably accommodate... without undue hardship on the conduct of the employer's business."
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