EEOC: Employers can bar unvaccinated employees from the workplace

In general, companies have the legal right to mandate that employees get a COVID-19 shot, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said Wednesday. More specifically, employers are entitled — and required — to ensure a safe workplace in which “an individual shall not pose a direct threat to the health or safety of individuals in the workplace.” That can mean a company requiring its workforce to be vaccinated.

The Americans with Disabilities Act limits an employer’s ability to require workers to get a medical examination. But the EEOC’s latest guidance clarifies that getting vaccinated does not constitute a medical exam. As a result, ordering employees to get a COVID-19 shot would not violate the ADA.

Not all employees must get vaccinated, according to the agency. Employees with either a disability or “sincerely held” religious beliefs that prevent them from getting inoculated areexempt, according to the EEOC, which is charged with enforcing laws against workplace discrimination.