EEOC Technical Guidance on Religious Objections

October 28, 2021

This guidance is intended to help employers, employees and applicants navigate vaccine-related religious accommodation requests.

At a Glance

  • On October 25, 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued updated technical guidance related to the COVID-19 pandemic, addressing questions about religious objections to employer COVID-19 vaccine requirements and how they interact with federal equal employment opportunity laws.
  • The guidance provides new information about how the federal antidiscrimination laws apply when an applicant or employee requests an exception from an employer’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement that conflicts with their sincerely held religious beliefs, practices, or observances.
  • The updated technical guidance is available here.

Requests for Religious Accommodations

The guidance is intended to help employers, employees and applicants navigate vaccine-related religious accommodation requests. As a refresher, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin and requires employers to accommodate employees sincerely held religious beliefs, practices, and observances absent undue hardship. Title VII applies to private employers and State and local governments with 15 or more employees.

The key updates to the technical assistance are summarized below:

  • Employees and applicants must inform their employers if they seek an exception to an employer’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement due to a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance.
  • Title VII requires employers to consider requests for religious accommodations but does not protect social, political, or economic views, or personal preferences of employees who seek exceptions to a COVID-19 vaccination requirement.
  • Employers that demonstrate “undue hardship” are not required to accommodate an employee’s request for a religious accommodation.
    The guidance comes as many employers are awaiting the release of OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard that will require employers with 100 or more employees to mandate vaccine or require regular Covid testing.

Next Steps

Employers with existing vaccine policies and those who will be subject to the OSHA requirements will want to review the updated guidance to ensure their accommodation review processes are sufficient.

Thank you for choosing Paylocity as your Payroll Tax and HCM partner. This information is provided as a courtesy, may change and is not intended as legal or tax guidance. Employers with questions or concerns outside the scope of a Payroll Service Provider are encouraged to seek the advice of a qualified CPA, Tax Attorney or Advisor.