Series: Navigating Medical and Religious Exemptions from a COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate
Given the reality of imposed COVID-19 vaccine mandates by federal, state, and local governments, whether or not a health center itself has decided to mandate the vaccine, all health centers must be confident in navigating the legal requirements for allowing for medical and religious exemptions from the vaccine.
Under federal law, some employees may be exempt from a health center’s requirement to be vaccinated pursuant to the reasonable accommodation provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Under these provisions, there are two types of exemptions: religious exemptions for sincerely held religious beliefs, practices, and observances (e.g., faith healing religious denominations that have traditions of declining vaccinations) and medical exemptions for certain disabilities (e.g., an allergy to one of the vaccine components or a medical condition).
In order to be in compliance with federal law, health centers must engage in an interactive process with employees to analyze whether the requests for exemption are reasonable and/or whether allowing such exemptions creates an undue hardship on the operation of the health center’s business. Importantly, the EEOC has noted that, “[U]ltimately, if an employee cannot be accommodated, employers should determine if any other rights apply under the EEO laws or other federal, state, and local authorities before taking adverse employment action against an unvaccinated employee.” In addition to the ADA and Title VII related exemptions in federal law, some states may also have their exemption framework which can include medical and religious exemptions, as well as philosophical exemptions.
Significantly, there is concern that both the denial of religious exemptions and the granting of them could expose an employer to legal action. This pandemic may be the first situation in which the federal government may take action against employers who grant wholesale exemptions to employees seeking “religious” exemptions in order to avoid compliance with the federal mandate.
Navigating the process for analyzing and applying these exemptions can be difficult and costly for health centers. In this webinar series, we will explore best practices for handling exemption requests from documenting the interactive process to the confidentiality requirements around the information that you receive from your employees. We will also explore potential legal liabilities for health centers when making decisions to grant or deny religious and medical exemptions from the vaccine. Finally we will discuss considerations when applying testing requirements to those staff members who have been vaccinated.
- Health Center Clinical Staff
- Risk Managers
- Compliance Officers
- CEOs, COOs, CMOs
- Clinical Staff
- Human Resources Managers and Staff
After these webinars, you will be better able to:
- Evaluate the legal framework of vaccine mandates
- Understand how medical and religious exemptions work
- Learn how to properly document the interactive process of evaluating medical and religious exemptions
- Evaluate risk management considerations when granting or denying a medical or religious exemption
- Identify strategies to limit employment-related risk for your health center providers when mandating COVID-19 vaccines
|Title||Date & Time (ET)||Duration|
3 pm ET
3 pm ET
A Partner in the firm’s health law practice group, Molly advises health centers on the management of clinical, employment and workforce-related risks, with a particular focus on professional liability, Federal Tort Claims Act, and HIPAA matters. From her experience as both a private attorney and in-house counsel, Molly knows the importance of managing liability and risk issues in mission-driven organizations. [Full Bio]
As Partner and Compliance Counsel with the firm’s health law practice group, Dianne advises health centers on implementing effective compliance programs and on addressing top compliance risk areas. Dianne counsels health centers and other organizations on developing compliance programs that include the OIG’s seven elements, respond to identified compliance risk areas, and reflect the organization’s culture. Dianne also advises health centers and other organizations on patient privacy and confidentiality, including the HIPAA Privacy Rule and 42 CFR Part 2. She has experience responding to privacy and security incidents, including determining whether there has been a breach, notifying patients and the government, and creating corrective action plans. [Full Bio]
BEN HAHN (Hahn Law, LLC)
Ben is the principal of Hahn Law, LLC, a Washington, DC management employment law firm. Ben has practiced law for over 40 years, with a focus on employment, labor, education, and services-related legal issues. He has been lead trial counsel in contested matters ranging from disability discrimination to independent contractor misclassification to whistleblower disputes. He has been Washington, DC Super Lawyer in employment every year since 2013 and is included in Marquis Who’s Who in American lawyers for 2021. Ben’s clients include health care, private education, child development, and trade association organizations, as well as many private for-profit enterprises. [Full Bio]
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