Employers have been awaiting guidance from the EEOC on vaccine-related incentives since the EEOC stated in April 2021 that it would issue new guidance (but declined to state when). Now, they have it. On May 28, 2021, the EEOC issued updated and expanded COVID-19 guidance in its technical assistance document “What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws.” The updated guidance provides clarification and supplements the original December 2020 version of Section K (“Vaccines”) of the technical assistance.
Key updates regarding incentives include:
- From a federal EEO standpoint, employers administering vaccines to their employees can offer incentives for their employees to be vaccinated, as long as the incentives are not coercive-but a large incentive could make employees feel pressured to disclose protected medical information by way of pre-vaccination disability-related screening questions.
- Federal EEO laws do not prevent or limit employers from offering incentives to employees to voluntarily provide documentation or other confirmation of vaccination obtained from a third party (not the employer) in the community, such as a pharmacy, personal health care provider, or public clinic. Employers must keep vaccination information confidential pursuant to the ADA.
Notably, the EEOC stated in this update that it is beyond the EEOC’s jurisdiction to discuss the legal implications of the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) status of the three COVID-19 vaccinations or the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approach to vaccine authorization–a response to “many inquiries” the EEOC received about the type of authorization granted the vaccines by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the FDA.