The United States Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy sent out an email with a link to an article of frequently asked questions on the Job Accommodation Network’s website.
JAN said it is receiving a range of questions on COVID-19 vaccines, including whether mandatory COVID vaccination may be required and how vaccination might impact the responsibility to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities or medical conditions under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The first question listed is:
Under the ADA, can an employer require that employees get vaccinated against COVID-19?
“The ADA does not prohibit employers from requiring COVID-19 vaccinations.”
It goes on to say the following:
“An employer who requires employees to get vaccinations administered directly by the employer or its agent will have to ask the CDC-recommended, pre-vaccination screening questions, and these questions include disability-related inquiries. Because the ADA limits when an employer may ask disability-related inquiries, the employer would have to show that the questions are job-related and consistent with business necessity if challenged.
By contrast, if an employer instead asks employees if they have received a vaccination in the community, or requires them to provide proof of vaccination, this is not a disability-related inquiry and is allowed under the ADA. However, the ADA requires an employer to treat the answer as confidential medical information. Also, if an employee cannot get a vaccination because of a disability, the employer must consider making accommodations.
For more information about the ADA and COVID-19 vaccinations, see section K in What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws.”
According to the document, asking an employee if they have received a COVID vaccine is not a disability-related inquiry under the ADA.
The document also states that an employer may ask employees if they’ve received a COVID vaccination.
If an employee cannot comply with an employer’s mandatory COVID vaccination policy due to a disability, the document states the employee can be excluded from the workplace if they cannot be reasonably accommodated to safely work.
“This does not necessarily mean, however, that the employee may be terminated,” the document states. “The employer should determine if the employee is entitled to other accommodations, such as remote work, and if protections under other federal, state or local laws apply.”