In a statement, Teamsters Local 700 President Ramon D. Williams comments on employers demanding mandatory Covid-19 Vaccinations for public sector employees. President Williams stated, “As is the current trend across the nation, we have heard from multiple employers including the City of Chicago, the State of Illinois, AND Cook County, announcing their intent to mandate vaccinations. Teamsters Local 700 maintains that it’s our members’ choice to receive a vaccine and the employers’ duty to make them readily available and we continue to submit Demands to Bargain as employers issue vaccination mandates to our members.”

Teamsters Local 700 General Counsel Natasha Jenkins states, “any employer vaccine policy should also provide medical and religious exemptions.” Further,  she cites the EEO statement as follows:

The federal EEO laws do not prevent an employer from requiring all employees physically entering the workplace to be vaccinated for COVID-19, subject to the reasonable accommodation provisions of Title VII and the ADA and other EEO considerations discussed below.  These principles apply if an employee gets the vaccine in the community or from the employer.   

In some circumstances, Title VII and the ADA require an employer to provide reasonable accommodations for employees who, because of a disability or a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance, do not get vaccinated for COVID-19, unless providing an accommodation would pose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer’s business.  The analysis for undue hardship depends on whether the accommodation is for a disability (including pregnancy-related conditions that constitute a disability) (see K.6) or for religion (see K.12). 

As with any employment policy, employers that have a vaccine requirement may need to respond to allegations that the requirement has a disparate impact on—or disproportionately excludes—employees based on their race, color, religion, sex, or national origin under Title VII (or age under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (40+)).  Employers should keep in mind that because some individuals or demographic groups may face greater barriers to receiving a COVID-19 vaccination than others, some employees may be more likely to be negatively impacted by a vaccination requirement.

It would also be unlawful to apply a vaccination requirement to employees in a way that treats employees differently based on disability, race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity), national origin, age, or genetic information unless there is a legitimate non-discriminatory reason.

As the pandemic nears the end of the second year, we will continue to monitor the situation and adapt accordingly. We ask that our members stay informed and regularly check with the union regarding this matter.

Stay Safe. Stay Strong. Stay United.

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