Jul 16 2021
Many Connecticut employees continue to wonder whether their employer can require them to get the COVID-19 vaccine. If you have been keeping up with the vaccine saga the last several weeks, you likely already know the answer: In general, yes, employers can mandate the vaccine. But this authorization is subject to two important exceptions: if you have a disability and your doctor recommends that you do not receive the vaccine, or if you have a sincerely held religious belief that would be violated by the vaccine.
Connecticut state law provides employees with a third exception: for pregnancy. Both federal and state laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, but Connecticut law also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations in connection with pregnancies.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding and your employer is requiring the vaccine, you may be able to request as a reasonable accommodation that you be exempted from the vaccine and instead do something else to protect yourself and your coworkers. Maybe that is remote work, a secluded workspace, or additional PPE. Every situation is different, so you should talk with your employer to determine what works best for both of you. So long as an accommodation does not present an undue hardship to your employer, the employer has an obligation to provide an accommodation for your pregnancy. This same rule also applies to new moms who are breastfeeding.
Remember, your employer can legally ask you whether you have been vaccinated because the vaccination itself is not a “medical examination” under the Americans with Disabilities Act. But your employer cannot ask you pre-vaccination medical screening questions, including about your pregnancy.