Many employers who are federal contractors and subcontractors are moving toward a December 8, 2021 deadline for workers to be vaccinated pursuant to Executive Order 14042 and the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force’s guidance.

Meanwhile, all employers with 100 or more employees continue to watch the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for what President Biden said would be a vaccine mandate Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS).

Although OSHA delivered the proposed ETS to the White House on Tuesday, October 12, reportedly, the White House has been inundated with requests for meetings from industry groups, trade associations and labor unions who have made various demands that the Administration scale back, delay, or eliminate the proposed ETS. Their efforts certainly seem to be causing delay. Recent reporting by CNBC suggests the OSHA ETS could be delayed until after the holidays.

Late on Monday, October 25, 2021, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released updated technical assistance guidance for employers on the issue of Title VII religious accommodations from vaccine requirements. The guidance is presented in FAQ format under Section L at the bottom of the page.

EEOC’s new guidance includes helpful reminders:

  • Employers generally must refrain from questioning the sincerity of an employee’s asserted religious belief in all but the most suspect of circumstances.
  • Even in suspect circumstances, an employers ability to press an employee for more detail is quite limited.
  • Employers generally should accept employee asserted religious beliefs at face value and focus their efforts instead on whether reasonable accommodations are available.
    ​The Safer Federal Workforce Task Force has advised federal agencies that reasonable accommodations for individuals who cannot become vaccinated for COVID-19 include mask-wearing, social distancing, and potentially regular COVID-19 testing. See the fifth answer to FAQs.

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Our bulletin below contains more information about the EEOC’s guidance on religious objections to employer COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Read Our Bulletin

 

If you have questions or need help, please contact one of our benefit consultants.


This blog and its contents are not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel for legal advice.