The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) declared that religious objectors to employer COVID-19 vaccine requirements need not be accommodated in certain circumstances.
The expanded technical assistance provides new information about how Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applies when an applicant or employee requests an exception from an employer’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement that conflicts with their sincerely held religious beliefs, practices, or observances. Title VII prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.
“This update provides employers, employees, and applicants with important assistance when navigating vaccine-related religious accommodation requests,” said EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows. “Title VII requires employers to accommodate employees’ sincerely held religious beliefs, practices, and observances absent undue hardship. This update will help safeguard that fundamental right as employers seek to protect workers and the public from the unique threat of COVID-19.”
The critical updates to the technical assistance are summarized below:
- 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 the 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.
The EEOC recognizes that employers require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of their employment.
This technical assistance answers COVID-19 questions only from the perspective of the EEO laws. Other federal, state, and local laws come into play regarding the COVID-19 pandemic for employers, employees, and applicants. As new developments occur, the EEOC will consider any impact on EEOC’s COVID-19 technical assistance and will provide additional updates and service to the public as needed.
More information about the civil rights implications of the COVID-19 pandemic is available in the record of the EEOC’s April 28, 2021 hearing on that topic.
Recommended Citation: Gelman, Jon L., Vaccine Mandate-EEOC: Employers that demonstrate “undue hardship” are not required to accommodate an employee’s request for a religious accommodation, Workers Compensation Blog (Oct. 21, 2021),
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Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thomson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thomson-Reuters). For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman 1.973.696.7900 firstname.lastname@example.org has been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.
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Author: "Workers' Compensation Law" West-Thomson-Reuters