by Christine Self
In our recent Insight, EEOC Updates its COVID-19 Guidance to Address Vaccines, Tueth Keeney discussed the grant of FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for two COVID-19 vaccines. Our guidance indicated that employers could encourage their employees to take the COVID vaccines without running afoul of the ADA, Rehabilitation Act and other EEO requirements, if they ensure that any mandate (post-EUA period) provides exemptions for sincerely held religious beliefs and employees with disabilities. Of course, employers must still be cognizant of the FDA’s requirement that employees be permitted to refuse the vaccine while it is still under EUA. Employers should consider the role vaccines play in providing a safe workplace now that COVID-19 vaccines are being administered in ever increasing numbers. While mandating vaccination of employees presents a host of potential issues, many employers hope to encourage their employees to be vaccinated in order to return to in-person working and educational models.
For employers who need assistance in handling the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) developed a COVID-19 Vaccine Communication Toolkit for Essential Workers, linked here. This toolkit, as recently highlighted in Tueth Keeney’s webinar, “A Shot in the Dark: Shedding Light on Your Vaccine Questions,” provides several resources for employers in many industries, including education, to utilize in their efforts to determine how the use of vaccines may impact the workplace and how to share that information with their employees. The toolkit includes key messages about the vaccines and vaccination policies, FAQs, slides to use for a vaccine presentation, fact sheets, posters, flyers, letters to employees, and social media messaging. The CDC toolkit materials make it easy to provide relevant factual information about the vaccines to your employees and encourage them to participate in the vaccine rollout.
Many employers, especially schools, are looking for safe ways to get back to in-person work and learning as soon as possible. Encouraging participation in the vaccination program is one step in that return to in-person activities. Specifically for schools, President Biden signed an Executive Order on Supporting the Reopening and Continuing Operation of Schools and Early Childhood Education Providers, calling for federal agencies to develop guidance to assist with this endeavor. As guidance is developed and updated, Tueth Keeney will continue to provide up to date information and educational opportunities to help employers understand and implement them.
If you have questions about COVID-19 vaccines or returning employees and students to in-person work and learning, do not hesitate to contact Tueth Keeney for assistance.
Christine Self practices in the areas of education law and employment law. She has developed employment policies and advised public employers on labor matters and laws such as the Freedom of Information Act and the Illinois Open Meetings Act. She has experience with collective bargaining and disciplinary investigations into employee misconduct. As a former public school teacher, she is committed to assisting schools navigate the legal requirements of the education environment so school leaders and educators can provide the best educational opportunities for students.
Labor and Employment – Tueth, Keeney, Cooper, Mohan & Jackstadt, P.C. has successfully represented a number of businesses, large and small, throughout the Midwest in labor and employment matters. Our broad range of experience includes employment discrimination litigation, wage-hour investigations, affirmative action revision plans development, INS audits, and a variety of traditional labor matters.
Illinois Education – Tueth Keeney is proud to be one of the state’s largest Illinois education law practices. The firm has one of the most experienced groups of attorneys in Central and Southern Illinois dedicated to serving public schools. We regularly represent nearly 150 public school districts, including many districts in Central and Southern Illinois. Our Firm is also regularly appointed by insurers of educational institutions to represent districts in complex or difficult cases involving school or civil rights laws.
Missouri Education – The law firm of Tueth Keeney Cooper Mohan & Jackstadt, P.C. (the “Firm”), has one of the largest and most successful education law groups in the country. The Firm regularly serves the legal counsel needs of approximately 150 school districts throughout Missouri. The Firm also has one of the largest school law practices in Central and Southern Illinois.