Friday, August 13, 2021



Guest Post by AP

My son’s university is mandating vaccines, and we’ve had to get a crash course on religious exemptions. I’ll summarize what I know.

1. Send a legal help request to Liberty Counsel. They are swamped with requests from students and employees, but even if you don’t get to talk with someone, they will send you times for conference calls where you can listen to a lawyer discuss the issues, and then they take questions from the attendees. It is very helpful.

2. Legally, getting a religious exemption should be a slam-dunk. It’s all there in the EEOC guidance on Title VII, Section 12, but the problem is that we no longer live under the rule of law, only the rule of power. Schools and Employers are doing whatever the hell they damn want, regardless of the law. Still, you have to try to use the law and the threat of a lawsuit.

3. Here is a link to the EEOC’s guidance on COVID19. Look specifically at section K.12.

accommodation requests from individuals who wish to wait until an alternative version or specific brand of COVID-19 vaccine is available to the employee. Such requests should be processed according to the same standards that apply to other accommodation requests.

EEOC guidance explains that the definition of religion is broad and protects beliefs, practices, and observances with which the employer may be unfamiliar. Therefore, the employer should ordinarily assume that an employee’s request for religious accommodation is based on a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance. However, if an employee requests a religious accommodation, and an employer is aware of facts that provide an objective basis for questioning either the religious nature or the sincerity of a particular belief, practice, or observance, the employer would be justified in requesting additional supporting information. See also 29 CFR 1605.

Under Title VII, an employer should thoroughly consider all possible reasonable accommodations, including telework and reassignment. For suggestions about types of reasonable accommodation for unvaccinated employees, see question and answer K.6., above. In many circumstances, it may be possible to accommodate those seeking reasonable accommodations for their religious beliefs, practices, or observances.

Under Title VII, courts define “undue hardship” as having more than minimal cost or burden on the employer. This is an easier standard for employers to meet than the ADA’s undue hardship standard, which applies to requests for accommodations due to a disability. Considerations relevant to undue hardship can include, among other things, the proportion of employees in the workplace who already are partially or fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and the extent of employee contact with non-employees, whose vaccination status could be unknown or who may be ineligible for the vaccine. Ultimately, 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

4. Also, two students from UMass filed a suit. The lawyer detailed many arguments that you may need to make. They are here in this pdf of the lawsuit. It’s a quick read with great arguments you might use.

5. Here is the full text of the EEOC guidance on Title VII, Section 12 Religious Discrimination.

Read Section 1 Religion, Section 2 Sincerely Held, and Section 3 Employer Inquiries into Religious Nature or Sincerity of Belief. They are short.

It’s all there – very simple. They have to accommodate a sincerely held religious belief, even if it is only held by one person, even if you go against other Catholic teachings, even if you are inconsistent in your adherence to Catholic behavior.