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Frequently Asked Questions
COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination
1. Can my employer legally require me to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
An employer cannot force an employee to take the COVID-19 vaccine, but they can make it a condition of employment provided the employer offers reasonable accommodations for employees. The employer must consider requests for reasonable accommodations for employees who, because of a disability or a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance, do not get vaccinated against COVID-19, unless providing an accommodation would pose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer’s business.
The Biden Administration has imposed vaccine mandates for the following groups:
1) Companies with 100 or more employees (OSHA rules mandate);
2) Employees of facilities that receive funding through Medicare or Medicaid (CMS mandate); and
3) Employees of companies that have contracts with the federal government (federal contractor mandate).
Our office has challenged the validity of each of these mandates by filing pleadings in federal courts. These cases are now pending and awaiting the courts’ decision.
2. Does my employer have to give me the opportunity to request a medical or religious accommodation?
Yes, all Oklahoma employers are subject to the Oklahoma Anti-Discrimination Act and must provide employees with an opportunity to request reasonable accommodations because of a disability or sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance.
3. I requested an exemption from my employer and it was denied, what do I do now?
If you have requested an exemption from your employer’s mandatory vaccination policy and you believe that it was improperly denied, you may file an Employment Discrimination Complaint with the Oklahoma Attorney General. The form may be found here.
4. Can my employer require me to receive the COVID-19 vaccine if I work from home?
An employer may require all employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine regardless of the location of the employee’s work. However, if an employee who works solely from home requests a reasonable accommodation, the employer should consider the fact that the employee works remotely and would not be at risk of spreading COVID-19 to others in the workplace.
5. How much information can an employer request regarding my religious beliefs as part of my request for an accommodation?
Employers should generally assume that a request for religious accommodation is based on sincerely held religious beliefs. However, an employer may make a limited inquiry and seek supporting information if the employer has an objective basis for questioning either the religious nature or the sincerity of a particular belief.
6. My employer denied my request because it would be an “undue hardship” to accommodate my request for a religious accommodation. What do I do now?
If an employer demonstrates that it is unable to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious belief without an “undue hardship,” then the law does not require the employer to provide the accommodation. However, employers should consider all possible reasonable accommodations, such as telework, routine testing, or additional safety protocols when evaluating an employee’s request for an accommodation to determine whether the employer can respect the employee’s religious beliefs without imposing an undue hardship. If you believe your employer improperly denied your request for an accommodation, you may file an Employment Discrimination Complaint.
7. I am a federal employee but live in Oklahoma, who can I file a complaint with?
The Oklahoma Attorney General cannot investigate complaints filed by employees of the federal government. Federal employees should contact the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
8. I understand the Oklahoma Attorney General was granted a temporary restraining order against Ascension Healthcare which prohibits Ascension from suspending or terminating employees who remain unvaccinated. As an Ascension employee, should I also file a complaint to be included?
A temporary restraining order was granted against Ascension Healthcare preventing suspension, termination, or adverse employment actions against Ascension’s Oklahoma employees and contractors who have requested but have been denied a religious exemption from Ascension’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Additionally, Ascension is required to rescind all such suspensions, terminations, or other adverse actions that occurred prior to November 12, 2021 and must allow all Oklahoma employees an additional thirty (30) days to submit requests for religious accommodations.
Although Ascension employees are not required to file a discrimination complaint with the Oklahoma Attorney General to receive the protection of the court order, any employee who believes that their request for a religious accommodation was improperly denied may file an Employment Discrimination Complaint.
9. Does the temporary restraining order against Ascension prevent other employers from suspending or terminating employees?
No, the temporary restraining order only applies to Ascension and its affiliates in Oklahoma.