There are many legal and cultural issues employers need to consider in deciding whether and how to mandate COVID-19 vaccines of some or all employees. This blog addresses but one issue—potential exemptions.
If an employer mandates vaccines, employers are required by the ADA and Title VII to consider exemptions/reasonable accommodations for disabilities/medical reasons or because of a sincerely-held religious belief. Employers may wish to consider another potential exemption/accommodation: pregnancy.
According to the CDC, while pregnant women are at higher risk for serious illness, the data are limited as to the safety of COVID 19 vaccines for pregnant women.
Therefore, even if not mandated by law, employers which mandate vaccines may wish to invite requests for exemptions for pregnancy (thinking carefully on what proof, if any, they will require).
Caution: as with other issues involving COVID 19, employers should avoid providing what may be deemed as medical advice. Instead, all employees should be encouraged to consult with their health care providers.
One more caution: inviting requests for the exemption without explanation may inadvertently discourage pregnant women from making an informed choice. In the case of pregnancy, employers may wish to include a link to CDC guidance so that pregnant women understand both the risk of not being vaccinated and the potential unknown risk of being vaccinated.
Employers should not be making this judgment. It is an issue for pregnant women to make in consultation with their own health care providers.
This blog is not legal advice, should not be construed as applying to specific factual situations or as establishing an attorney-client relationship.
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