Q&A: What are your rights as an employee when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines?

ATLANTA — President Joe Biden announced that every adult American who wants a COVID-19 vaccine should be able to get one by the end of May.

Some employers might want their workers vaccinated to ensure everyone’s safety in the workplace. But what happens if you don’t want one? Channel 2 Action News took your questions to experts for answers.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Everything to know about COVID-19 vaccines in Georgia]

Will I be required to get a vaccine if employer says so?

The short answer is yes, however, there are exceptions.

What are the exceptions?

Labor and employment attorney Sheri Oluyemi said that employees can refuse to get a vaccine because of their religion or a disability that would prevent them from safely getting it.

[RELATED: Georgia will soon have 9 mass vaccination sites. Here’s what you need to know]

In the disability case, the law requires an employer to accommodate.

“Accommodations vary from a reassignment to a different work location, reassignment to a different job task,” Oluyemi said.

“If you work if you as an employee work in a position that requires you to be as you put it front facing with the public, then it might be difficult to find an accommodation.”

Channel 2 consumer adviser Clark Howard pointed out that there are some people who can’t get a flu vaccine because of pre-existing medical conditions. If you can prove that the COVID-19 might be dangerous for you, you could potentially not be vaccinated but keep your job.

[QUICK LINKS: Here’s where you can get COVID-19 vaccines around metro Atlanta]

Is it legal for my employer to ask if I got the vaccine?

Yes. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says your employer is allowed to ask if you have been vaccinated.

It does not violate the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, according to the EEOC.

“If a vaccine is administered to an employee by an employer for protection against contracting COVID-19, the employer is not seeking information about an individual’s impairments or current health status, and, therefore, it is not a medical examination,” EEOC officials said in the updated guidelines.

Employers can require employees show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination without violating employment discrimination laws.

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