EEO & the Covid Vaccine

Mary Barrett
January 4, 2022

Federal EEO laws are there to protect you against employment discrimination. These laws protect you from retaliation for defending your rights to be free from discrimination.

This article explains how these laws protect rights that can help safeguard you at work during the COVID-19 pandemic. For those who are being harassed, are “high-risk,” are being blocked from working by their employer, or who need a change of their employer’s COVID-19 safety requirements, these laws are especially important.

A sign with red and white lettering on a metal pole that says Every Human Has ights

There has been an increase in some types of harassment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there are EEO laws in place that are meant to prevent you from being harassed at work because of your national origin, race, religion, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity), genetic information, disability, or if you are over 40. As an example, being harassed at work because you are African American is against the law.

Let’s say you tell your employer that someone is harassing you at work, for any of the above reasons. Your employer is obligated to find out if the harassment is occurring, and if it is, to stop it.

Covid-19 & Reasonable Accommodation

Do you have a medical condition that makes you “high risk?”Maybe you have a mental health condition that makes it difficult to come to work. You may be able to work from home as a reasonable accommodation, thanks to these EEO laws.

However, to be eligible you must be able to do your regular job from home and your medical condition must be a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Additionally, if you are pregnant you may be able to work from home if your employer is letting other people work from home.

If you can’t do your job from home, you might be able to get a different accommodation under EEO, such as protective equipment or scheduling changes. Remember, always ask your employer for an accommodation if you need one.

In any case, an employer can’t block you from working completely just because you are over 40, pregnant, have a disability, or you take care of someone with a disability. However, your employer can force you to stay home if you have COVID-19 and are contagious.]

A woman with long hair sitting next to a cracked winow as she works on a laptop with a teacup and eyeglasses next to her

According to the EEOC, your employer can make you stay home from work if you have a disability that makes you high risk. This is only if coming into the office would create a major risk of considerable harm to your health that cannot be reduced through reasonable accommodation.

Although, you may be able to work from home as a reasonable accommodation, even if you can’t come to work due to a disability. Remember, if you need a reasonable accommodation, ask your employer.

You may also be able to get a reasonable accommodation if you need a change to your employer’s safety requirements or equipment because of a medical condition or a religious belief, practice, or observance.

For example, you might be able to get a different mask as a reasonable accommodation. Or, if you did not take a COVID-19 vaccine because of your disability or religious belief, practice, or observance, you might be able to get an exception to your employer’s vaccination requirement, and instead ask to use masks, social distancing, schedule changes, or reassignment to stay safe at work.

For more information about your EEO rights, call us at 404-724-0000 and schedule a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys today!

This blog and web site published by Melville Johnson, P.C. should not be used as a substitute for seeking competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney. Readers of this information should not act upon any information contained on this blog or website without seeking professional counsel.
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