Yesterday, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) added more FAQs to its COVID guidance to what is becoming a very long list that started months ago. The EEOC highlights the additional religious exemption guidance as follows:
- Employees and applicants must inform their employers if they seek an exception to an employer’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement due to a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance.
- Title VII requires employers to consider requests for religious accommodations but does not protect social, political, or economic views, or personal preferences of employees who seek exceptions to a COVID-19 vaccination requirement.
- Employers that demonstrate “undue hardship” are not required to accommodate an employee’s request for a religious accommodation.
It is important to note the EEOC remains steadfast that employers must take an individual approach with regard to each employee who requests an accommodation for religious or medical reasons. This means employers must document that they engaged in the interactive process and assess on a case-by-case basis what, if any, accommodation can be made for the employee. Prudent employers should make sure to have written documentation of the following:
- the interactive process;
- what accommodation is being sought by the employee?;
- what accommodations, if any, are being offered by the employer?; and
- all evidence of undue hardship if an accommodation is being denied.
As always, if you have questions, contact any member of Ruder Ware’s COVID-19 Focus Team.
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