As COVID-19 vaccine mandates by employers become more common, so do requests for exemptions. Requests for religious exemptions from COVID-19 vaccine mandates have forced many employers to make difficult decisions regarding the validity of the accommodation requests as well as whether and how to reasonably accommodate legitimate requests — while also meeting the obligation to maintain a safe and healthy workplace. Yesterday, the EEOC issued new guidance providing helpful insight regarding an employer’s obligation to grant requests for religious exemptions to COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
As the global community continues to manage the ever-evolving COVID-19 pandemic, countries have taken different approaches to addressing COVID-19 vaccinations. As we have discussed, Italy requires both public- and private-sector employees to possess government-issued health passes (i.e., the Green Pass) that demonstrate proof of (i) vaccination, (ii) a recent negative COVID-19 test result or (iii) recovery from COVID-19 in the six months prior to returning to the workplace. Although this measure stops short of requiring private-sector employees to receive COVID-19 vaccinations, it represents one of the world’s strictest COVID-19 vaccination requirements.