EEOC Issues New Technical Assistance Bulletin to Guide Employers through Religious Exemption Requests to Avoid Vaccine Requirements at Work.

October 26, 2021

The EEOC posted updated and expanded technical assistance yesterday related to the COVID-19 pandemic to address questions about religious objections to employer COVID-19 vaccine requirements under Title VII.

The updated technical assistance covers how Title VII 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 religion, among other things, but does not require to accommodate religious practices that would impose an undue hardship on the employer.

The key updates note the following:

  • 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. Notably, courts have set a mere “de minimus” standard for a showing of “undue hardship”.  That is a much lower standard than the “undue burden” standard used for disabilities under the ADA.

For more, visit the EEOC’s site where the full technical assistance is set forth for public view.