Religious Exemption to Vaccine Guide Now Available.
Medical Exemption Guide still in the works
As promised, this post contains links to the first set of materials to assist in requesting and obtaining religious exemptions from the COVID vaccine. I obtained these courtesy of my friends at the Alliance Defending Freedom. I’m sharing them with you through Google Drive via a web link - if this doesn’t work for any of you, please email me at email@example.com. Please, please, don’t just forward the materials around - I need subscribers to get companies interested in posting their positions here for those of you that need jobs! Encourage your friends to subscribe instead by sharing this page by email or, if you must, through social media.
Finally, to notify me of hiring employers NOT requiring a COVID vaccine, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And for any other information you would like to share, email me at email@example.com.
To make these materials more useful, I’m also giving you a little overview of the legal process (again, this is generalized information, I’m not your lawyer, yada yada) to know how this will work in real life. This exemption concept is governed by Title VII (the Civil Rights Act of 1964) when it involves a private employer, and some local government hospitals.
You have to ask. An employee has to notify their employer of a “bona fide” (good faith) religious belief that conflicts with an employment duty. Yes, at least for now, employers can characterize getting the COVID-19 vaccine as a “duty.” The materials I’m providing will help you with “how” to ask (and why remaining unvaccinated is probably already in line with what you believe). Ask respectfully, and clearly, preferably in writing (email is fine) so there is never a question as to what you asked and when you asked for it. The key phrase is “religious accommodation.”
The penalty for otherwise not complying must be clear. Some court cases have suggested that the threat of merely being “disciplined” is not enough - it has to cost your job. The employer will probably make this clear, but if a vague “preference” for vaccination is announced, seek clarity as to what happens if you decline.
The employer must respond. If you can show that you’ve requested the accommodation because of a good faith religious belief and that you’ll be fired if you don’t comply with the “duty” to get the COVID vaccine, then the employer has to show an “undue hardship.” Not to get too technical, but right now the law (which could improve with a really good case - I’m working on it!) is that “undue hardship” equals “more than a minimal cost.” Now, that concept can include “safety risks.” But they have to be “actual” safety risks, not hypothetical risks. There are other possibilities, but I can almost guarantee your employer will be beating the “safety” drum. This “minimal” standard for employers to show has been the subject of several recent dissents at the Supreme Court and the right case could make the standard much more employee friendly.
The employer has to at least consider an accommodation. A possible accommodation might include job transfer or the ability to apply for another position within the company. These have been considered reasonable accommodations by courts. Important: there is not an absolute right to keep the job position you currently have based on the accommodation request. But an employer who refuses to consider ANY possibility of accommodation is at risk for losing a Title VII lawsuit.
The next step is to go to the EEOC or State Agency. As I outline in my EEOC book for employees, the necessary first step for a “failure to accommodate” case is going to the EEOC or its state equivalent. Because the federal policy (the EEOC is federal) is SO strongly favoring vaccines right now, I am actually recommending clients go to the corresponding state agency first IF that state is slightly more protective of rights and less hyper-vaccine. Go to this spot on the EEOC Site and enter your zip code, then click “State and Local Agencies” link to find the State Agency (aka FEPA) in your area.
Now for the links! I have also include links to these materials on the jabfreejobs.com main page on the right hand side.
Sample Religious Accommodation Request
Sample Spiritual Leader Support Letter