The COVID-19 pandemic has had a seismic impact on the labor market. Employers currently struggling with a labor shortage while also trying to navigate vaccination requirements could be exposed to liability if they prefer candidates that list their vaccination status on their resume.
The practice of filtering applicants based on vaccination status may violate federal protections for people with disabilities or sincerely held religious beliefs. The American with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act require that employers make accommodations for employees or applicants with disabilities or sincerely held religious beliefs. A blanket policy of filtering applicants based on their vaccination status alone could result in unintentional discrimination against certain individuals who require an exemption, whether medical or religious.
Moreover, because Black and Latino individuals overall have lower vaccination rates, a blanket policy could also result in a disparate impact claim under Title VII for racial discrimination.
While hiring discrimination cases can be difficult for applicants to win, employers can avoid defending a discrimination claim in the first place by limiting the amount of information they collect or consider from job applicants.
Should you have any questions concerning vaccinations in the workplace, including questions concerning a mandatory vaccination program, please do not hesitate to contact our team of professionals.
Rafael E. Lázaro is a founding member of Lázaro Law Group, LLC. With a particular emphasis on sexual harassment, Mr. Lázaro has dedicated his career to improving the workplace.