California: Employers Allowed to Require Vaccines


All Employers with CA Employees


March 4, 2021


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(888) 378-2456

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) recently updated its COVID-19 Guidance page to address vaccine-related questions. The latest update, as of March 4, 2021, answers one of the biggest questions for many employers: can we require employees to get vaccinated?

According to the DFEH, employers may require employees to obtain FDA-approved vaccines so long as the employer complies with the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Under FEHA, employers are prohibited from harassing or discriminating/retaliating against employees or applicants on the basis of a protected characteristic. Employers are also expected to provide reasonable accommodations related to disability or sincerely held religious beliefs or practices.

As such, employees who decline vaccination based on sincerely held religious beliefs or practices may need to be accommodated. Employers are expected to engage in the interactive process with the affected employee to identify a reasonable accommodation, such as job restructuring, reassignment, or modification of work practices.

The FAQs provide further guidance on a number of vaccine-related topics, such as:

  • Managing employees who object to vaccines on grounds not related to a disability or a sincerely held religious belief;
  • What medical information employers may ask for when administering a COVID-19 vaccination program; and
  • Requiring documentation or proof of vaccination.

Keep in mind that while this guidance provides clarity on state rules, employers must still also follow federal rules and guidelines as well, including those administered by the U.S. Department of Labor and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Action Items

  1. Review the updated guidance here.
  2. Evaluate vaccine policies and programs for further action.
  3. Subscribers can call our HR On-Call Hotline at (888) 378-2456 for further assistance.

Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser.

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