Dec. 15, 2021
In an ongoing pandemic, asking job applicants if they have been vaccinated may seem like a sensible safety measure. The question is whether an employer is legally allowed to do that.
According to Oberman Law Firm, you do, in fact, have the ability as an employer to ask about vaccination status–with some caveats. The firm advises that employers should only ask applicants vaccination questions that pertain to the job.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from asking applicants questions that are likely to reveal the existence of a disability before making the potential candidate a job offer. However, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has clarified that asking employees whether they have received the COVID-19 vaccine is not a disability-related inquiry under the ADA.
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The firm notes the importance that employers not overstep their legal bounds. While asking about the vaccination itself will usually be permissible, follow-up questions that may reveal a disability may run afoul of the ADA.
Employers should stay focused on the health and safety of the workforce, the firm recommends. Whether asking applicants about their vaccination status is advisable may depend on the employer’s industry, whether employees can socially distance, and the percentage of the workforce that is already vaccinated.
Can an Employer Require Vaccination Before Hiring?
Employers may be able to require that new hires be vaccinated by the first day of work, provided they accommodate those who cannot receive the vaccine for disability or religious-based reasons, according the firm. If an employer keeps a record of vaccinations, the proof should be treated as a confidential medical record.