1. Can employers in the construction industry require employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of employment?
In short, it depends. Back in December 2020, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) explained that, generally speaking (and under federal law), employers can require employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. However, there are a few caveats.
First, certain employees may need to be excused from a mandatory vaccination requirement as a reasonable accommodation unless it will present undue hardship. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers must provide reasonable accommodations to employees with a covered disability that prevents them from receiving the vaccine. (Fact sheets for the COVID-19 vaccines include examples of some of the underlying medical conditions that may result in an accommodation request.) And under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers are similarly required to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with sincerely held religious beliefs, practices, or observances that prevent them from getting the vaccine. Employers requiring the vaccination would be wise to consult with an experienced employment lawyer before denying an accommodation. Accommodation issues stemming from administration of the COVID-19 vaccine (and COVID-19 more generally) are likely to plague employers for a while, so getting ahead of this issue is key.