Fact check: Yes, employers can require that workers receive the COVID-19 vaccine
Claiming: Employers can require their employees to get the coronavirus vaccine and fire them if they don't
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released its first guidelines on requirements for coronavirus vaccination in the workplace on December 16.
Hood Report TV went to Instagram to share the news. "Employers are reportedly able to require workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine," it said in its post.
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The Western Journal also wrote about the guidelines on its website. "Employers can now legally fire you for rejecting the COVID vaccine," the headline reads.
Hood Report TV and Western Journal TODAY did not respond to requests from the US for comment.
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There are a few exceptions
Employers have the legal right to give their workers a COVID-19 vaccination in accordance with the guidelines.
The law allows employers to "establish a requirement that an individual does not pose a direct threat to the health or safety of anyone in the workplace".
There are exceptions for employees with disabilities or "righteous" religious beliefs - protected by the Disabled Americans Act or Title VII.
In these cases, employers must demonstrate that an unvaccinated worker poses a "significant risk of significant harm to the health or safety of the individual or others" in the workplace.
Employers who conclude that an unvaccinated worker poses such a threat must attempt to provide the worker with "reasonable accommodation".
If there is no reasonable accommodation or if the placement imposes "undue hardship" on the employer, the guidelines allow the employer to "exclude the worker from the job".
This does not mean that the employer can automatically terminate the employee. Before dismissal, it is up to the employer most of all to decide whether or not to have "other rights" under federal anti-discrimination laws or federal, state, and local government laws and regulations.
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The COVID-19 vaccine is being distributed in New York City.
Employees who do not receive a vaccine can be fired
Helen Rella, a workplace attorney at the law firm Wilk Auslander, explained the practical implications of the guidelines to CBS News.
"The logical conclusion is that if possible placement is not possible and the worker's job requires him to be in the physical workplace - and they pose a direct threat to the safety of the workplace or others - they could be terminated." Said Rella.
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Our rating: correct
Based on our research, the claim that employers can require their employees to get a coronavirus vaccine and fire them if they don't is TRUE. The latest guidelines from the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission make it clear that employers can require their workers to get vaccinated, with a few exceptions - including disability and religious beliefs. Although they must try to accommodate these employees, they may not be able to do so. In this case, they can exclude employees from the workplace or terminate them.
Our facts check sources:
U.S. Equal Opportunities Commission, December 16, EEOC releases updated Covid-19 technical assistance publication
U.S. Equal Opportunities Commission, accessed December 22, What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, Rehabilitation Act, and other EEO laws
CBS News, Dec. 21, Employers Can Lock Unvaccinated Employees From Work, EEOC Says
US TODAY, Dec 5, Yes, some Americans may need to get a COVID-19 vaccine, but not from the federal government
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This article originally appeared in the US TODAY: Fact Checking: Employers Can Require Employees to Receive the COVID-19 Vaccine
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