x
Breaking News
More () »

Maine's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Maine | NewsCenterMaine.com

Employers can require workers to get COVID-19 vaccine, US agency says

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said federal law does not prevent any employer from requiring all workers entering the building to be vaccinated.

PORTLAND, Maine — Guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released on Friday said federal law does not prevent any employer from requiring all workers entering the building to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

In short, that means employers can require those who physically enter the building to be vaccinated.

There are some exceptions. Generally speaking, if a worker has a disability or a "sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance," federal laws require employers to make "reasonable accommodations."

The EEOC said those accommodations for unvaccinated employees could include:

  • wearing a mask
  • working at a social distance from co-workers
  • working a modified shift
  • getting tested for COVID-19 periodically
  • being allowed to work remotely

Employers must have the same standard for everyone. They cannot allow some to skip getting the shot, while requiring others to get it, especially if that decision is based on disability, race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or genetic information.

A person's COVID-19 vaccination record is confidential medical info under the American Disabilities Act, but the EEOC said the law does not prevent employers from requiring documentation or other confirmation of vaccination.

"Although the EEO laws themselves do not prevent employers from requiring employees to bring in documentation or other confirmation of vaccination, this information, like all medical information, must be kept confidential and stored separately from the employee’s personnel files under the ADA."

In short, an employer can ask you to prove you have gotten the vaccine.

The EEOC said that businesses that require vaccines could face allegations that mandating a shot disproportionately excludes workers based on their race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, because some people may face greater barriers to receiving the vaccine.