The EEOC steps up to address the pandemic’s impact

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) recently issued public guidance regarding the use of incentives to encourage employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. This technical assistance from the EEOC outlines how employment law and civil rights statutes, such as Title VII and the Americans with Disabilities Act, apply when an employer offers incentives for employees to receive a complete COVID-19 vaccination. In addition, the EEOC’s guidance confirms that the governing Federal law does not bar an employer from requiring all employees working in an employer’s facility to be vaccinated against COVID-19 if the employer follows the applicable reasonable accommodation provisions.

According to the EEOC’s 2022 budget proposal, the EEOC also intends to dedicate substantial resources over the next decade to address the civil rights impact of the pandemic, systemic discrimination, worker misclassification that often accompanies joint employer schemes, and other ongoing work-related issues. In this way, the EEOC is joining the United States Department of Labor (“DOL”) to combat the increasing machinations by companies about what is an employer and who is an employee. In other words, enforcement of Title VII, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and other employment law should be more meaningful going forward. This bodes well for those who seek to secure workplace fairness by, for example, fully addressing discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and wage theft. The enhanced efforts of the EEOC and the DOL in such respects will provide a vital complement to the class action litigation and collective action cases being prosecuted to end workplace abuses across the nation.