Just today the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (“FDA”) issued full approval of the first Covid-19 vaccine—the Pfizer vaccine! The FDA’s approval of the Pfizer vaccine is a milestone as we continue to battle the Covid-19 pandemic. While this vaccine and others have already met the FDA’s rigorous, scientific standards for emergency use authorization, the approval of the Pfizer vaccine should instill additional confidence for those who remain unvaccinated. This major step in validating the Pfizer vaccine may incentivize employers to mandate vaccines in the workplace that may impact an employers decision to move forward as we wrote about in our prior blog post “Yes, Employers Can Mandate Vaccines!”
However, this does not necessarily mean that all employees in your workforce will in fact get the Covid-19 vaccine. Even if an employer chooses to mandate the Covid-19 vaccine, employers are required to provide an exemption to the mandate for those employees who are unable to get the Covid-19 vaccine due to a medical condition or a sincerely held religious belief.
What should I do if an employee requires an exemption?
If an employee informs you that they require an exemption to the mandate, and therefore request an accommodation, an employer must engage in a good faith, in the “interactive process” to find a reasonable accommodation for that employee. An employer is responsible for providing a reasonable accommodation, so long as it does not cause an undue hardship on the business, which is a difficult threshold to meet.
A good faith interactive process should include direct and open discussion with the employee to determine possible options for an accommodation. Factors employers should consider when determining a reasonable accommodation for an employee should include the nature of the workforce, the workspace itself, the employee’s position amongst other considerations. This process is very fact specific and requires proper documentation of this process. While there are scenarios where a reasonable accommodation is not possible, employers should consult with legal counsel before taking further steps to ensure compliance with legal requirements given the ever evolving nature of the pandemic and its impact on your business.
To learn more about implementing a Covid-19 vaccine mandate in the workplace, assistance with the interactive process, and whether there is a reasonable accommodation for your employee requesting an accommodation, please contact the Employer Lawyers at Chauvel & Glatt.
This material in this article, provided by Chauvel & Glatt, is designed to provide informative and current information as of the date of the post. It should not be considered, nor is it intended to constitute legal advice. For information on your particular circumstances, please contact Chauvel & Glatt at 650-573-9500. Chauvel & Glatt is located on the Peninsula in San Mateo, CA and serves the Bay Area counties and businesses throughout California. (photo credit: 123rf.com).