With flu season upon us, employers have started to ask if they can require their employees to get flu shots. Given the timely nature of this topic, we highlighted some guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on mandatory flu vaccinations. In general, the EEOC has advised that flu vaccinations may not be mandated for all employees. Exceptions must be made for disability or religious accommodation requests. EEOC Guidance (Flu Shots): 13. May an employer covered by the ADA and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 compel all of its employees to take the influenza vaccine regardless of their medical conditions or their religious beliefs during a pandemic? No. An employee may be entitled to an exemption from a mandatory vaccination requirement based on an ADA disability that prevents him from taking the influenza vaccine. This would be a reasonable accommodation barring undue hardship (significant difficulty or expense). Similarly, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, once an employer receives notice that an employee's sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance prevents him from taking the influenza vaccine, the employer must provide a reasonable accommodation unless it would pose an undue hardship as defined by Title VII ("more than de minimis cost" to the operation of the employer's business, which is a lower standard than under the ADA). Given the above, the EEOC advises employers to "encourage" rather than require flu vaccinations. As was stated by one of our members, one reason to strongly encourage your employees to get a flu shot right now is that since the symptoms are very similar to COVID-19, someone could shut down part or all of your operations while you await the results of COVID testing. And, if it turns out that it was the flu and not COVID, your shutdown could have been prevented with a flu shot. Most health insurance plans offer free or low-cost options for flu shots. Consult with your insurance provider, or contact the Benefit Fund Office for your Union employees for information regarding their coverages.