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Vaccines and Your Employment

School & Work

Here, learn if your employer can require you to be vaccinated.

In general, Texas employers cannot implement a mandatory vaccination policy unless they are operating a healthcare-related business. If you are working in the healthcare field, the policy is job-related and consistent with business necessity and provides for exemptions based on an employee’s covered disability or an employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs or conscience. Those who fall within a covered category can request an exemption. 

Are vaccines mandatory?

No, the state government does not require vaccines are not required by the state government.  

In Texas, private employers may not implement mandatory vaccination policies except for unless they are healthcare-related employers. Your decision as to whether to get a vaccine is a personal one, and one that should be made after consulting with your health care provider. Read more about vaccines on the CDC’s website. 

How is this related to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?

An employer that is implementing policies regarding mandatory vaccinations must follow the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA applies to private employers with 15 or more employees and to most government employers, employment agencies, and labor unions. The ADA may also apply to employers with 15 or less employees if that employer receives federal funds. 

The ADA prohibits covered employers from discriminating against people with disabilities in the full range of employment-related activities. A mandatory vaccination policy may implicate provisions of the ADA, which has restrictions on when and how much medical information an employer may obtain from an applicant or employee. 

Can my employer require me to get any vaccines?

No. Private employers cannot require employees to be vaccinated unless they are a healthcare-related business. In Texas, one can also submit a Vaccine Exemption Form.  

Can my employer ask about my medical history before requiring me to receive a vaccination?

he CDC recommends that health care providers should ask certain questions before administering the vaccine to ensure there is no medical reason that would prevent a person from receiving the vaccination.  

However, there are two exceptions where the employer does not have to satisfy the “job-related and consistent with business necessity” standard.  

First is when your employer offers vaccination to its employees on a voluntary basis. If vaccination is voluntary, then the ADA requires that the employee’s decision to answer pre-screening, disability-related questions also must be voluntary. If an employee chooses not to answer these questions, the employer may decline to administer the vaccine, but may not retaliate against, intimidate, or threaten the employee for refusing to answer any questions.  

Second, if an employee receives an employer-required vaccination from a third party who does not have a contract with the employer, such as a pharmacy like CVS or Walgreens, or other health care provider, the “job-related and consistent with business necessity” restrictions on disability-related inquiries would not apply to the pre-screening questions. Such questions will likely be asked by the pharmacy or health care provider administering the vaccination. However, the pharmacy or health care provider may choose not to administer the vaccine should the employee decline to answer the pre-screening medical questions. Your answers to any pre-screening medical questions, including your refusal to answer any such questions, will not be shared with the employer. Privacy laws preclude health care providers from disclosing private and confidential medical information to anyone without authorization. Moreover, any medical information shared by you to your employer is also protected by the same privacy laws and other federal, state, and local laws. 

What are my rights if my employer requires a vaccine, but I don't want to or am unable to receive the vaccine due to a disability?

If you’re unable to get vaccinated due to a disability, and the employer concludes that you would pose a direct threat to the health or safety of yourself or others, then your employer should determine whether you may be entitled to a reasonable accommodation such as allowing you to perform your job remotely. While some workers are entitled to work from home, others may not be able to do so. You should ask your employer what you need to do and if a reasonable accommodation can be made for you.  

If your employer cannot provide a reasonable accommodation because it would be too difficult or expensive (i.e., unduly burdensome), then your employer may exclude you from physically entering the workplace. However, the employer may not automatically terminate your employment. Those unable to work remotely may be eligible to take leave under the FMLA or under the employer’s policies such as paid or unpaid leave. 

In Texas, one can also submit a Vaccine Exemption Form. 

What are my rights as a healthcare employee if my employer requires a vaccine, but I don't want to or am unable to receive the vaccine due to my sincerely held religious practice or belief?

Once you notify an employer that your sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance prevents you from receiving the vaccination, the employer must provide a reasonable accommodation for the religious belief, practice, or observance unless such an accommodation would pose an undue hardship under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.  

In general, employers should ordinarily assume that an employee’s request for religious accommodation is based on a sincerely held religious held belief. If, however, an employee requests a religious accommodation, and the employer has an objective basis for questioning either the religious nature or the sincerity of a particular belief, practice, or observance, the employer would be justified in requesting additional supporting information. 

In Texas, one can also submit a Vaccine Exemption Form.  

What if my healthcare-related employer cannot exempt or provide a reasonable accommodation to me because of my inability to comply with a mandatory vaccine policy due to a disability or sincerely held religious practice of belief?

If you are unable to get vaccinated because of a disability or sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance, and there is no reasonable accommodation possible, then it would be lawful for the employer to exclude the employee from physically entering the workplace. This doesn’t mean that the employer can automatically terminate the worker. Employers will need to determine if there are other rights that apply under the EEO laws, or other federal, state, or local authorities.  

In Texas, one can also submit a Vaccine Exemption Form. 

Can my employer require proof of any vaccines before I may return to work?

If you don’t work in healthcare, your employer cannot require proof of vaccination before you are permitted to return to work. Of course, any requests by your employer must be job-related and consistent with business necessity. In Texas, one can also submit a Vaccine Exemption Form.  Your employer may not require your private genetic information as part of the proof. 

It is good practice for individuals to keep track of their immunization records. The CDC has information on Keeping Track of Your Immunization Record. 

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