Handling Vaccine-Related Religious Accommodations in California
Labor, Employment and Benefits attorney Tina Tellado spoke to SHRM, providing tips to California employers on how to respond to employees requesting religious exemptions to the COVID-19 proof of vaccination requirements. Ms. Tellado first discusses religious accommodation laws, explaining that the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 are consistent in regards to religious beliefs, with the major difference being the "standard for denying a request for a reasonable accommodation."
Ms. Tellado continues on discussing compliance tips and instructs employers to "have a form available for employees to request an exemption. The federal government offers a template, which can guide the company in this process. On the form, the employee should explain the nature of the religious objection."
She reminds employers that "retaliation is prohibited. 'Whether the request is approved or denied, the employer is not allowed to retaliate against the employee' Ms. Tellado said."
She also mentions that "the issue of vaccine-related religious accommodation is an evolving area of law, so employers should stay informed about the latest developments."