Indiana Employers May Investigate Validity of Religious Exemption Requests for COVID-19 VaccineMarch 16, 2022 – Articles
Dinsmore employment law attorney Alyson St. Pierre authored an article for The Indiana Lawyer regarding a recent Indiana law that does not automatically grant religious exemptions from COVID-19 vaccinations and instead allows employers to investigate the validity of religious exemption requests. An excerpt is below.
In most circumstances, employers will presume a religious belief is sincerely held if professed by an employee, but the line between sincerely held religious beliefs and political, social, scientific or personal beliefs is especially blurred in the context of COVID-19 vaccinations. As a result, an employer may have reason to ask the requesting employee for more information to understand or evaluate the sincerity of the religious belief underlying the employee’s request for exemption. The employer should only ask for additional information if it needs clarification on how the employee’s religious belief conflicts with the vaccine mandate or has an objective reason to question the credibility of the employee’s request. For instance, if the employee made a request for the same accommodation based on purely personal reasons before submitting a request for religious exemption, the employer may have reason to question the credibility of the employee’s professed religious belief. Another situation where an employer may want to seek additional information is if an employee requests a religious exemption but bases his or her request on political or scientific reasoning.
No Indiana court has yet determined whether granting a religious exemption to a COVID-19 mandate would impose an undue hardship on an employer. However, the federal court sitting in Indianapolis has previously observed that undue hardship has routinely been found in cases where the proposed accommodation would either cause or increase safety risks in the workplace.
Read the full article here.