The Delaware Department of Labor has issued answers to frequently asked questions regarding vaccination mandates, the rights of employees, and unemployment benefits eligibility:
Can an employer require employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine to enter the workplace?
Yes, with some exceptions. Neither federal law nor Delaware law precludes employers from choosing to mandate vaccines. Mandating the COVID-19 vaccine raises complex legal issues, so employers should consult legal counsel or seek other resources to help enacting a general policy mandating vaccines and to assess whether any individual employee must be provided an exception from the mandate.
The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has issued guidance that an employer can require that an employee receive the COVID-19 vaccine to return to the workplace, unless the employee cannot get the vaccine because of a disability, because their doctor has advised them not to get the vaccine while pregnant or breastfeeding, or because of a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance.
In general, if an employee has a disability that precludes them from getting a COVID-19 vaccine, has been specifically advised by their doctor not to get the COVID-19 vaccine while pregnant or breastfeeding, or has a sincerely held religious belief, practice or observance that precludes them from getting a COVID-19 vaccine, their employer must provide a reasonable accommodation from their mandatory vaccine policy, unless doing so would impose an undue burden on their operations, or unless the employee poses a direct threat to the health or safety of other individuals in the workplace. The relevant federal and state laws should be consulted by employers as they consider whether a reasonable accommodation is required.
In addition, employers who employ union employees are also encouraged to review the governing collective bargaining agreement before requiring vaccinations.
Can an employer require employees to submit proof of “full vaccination”?
Yes. Employers may require employees to provide proof of vaccination, such as a copy of their vaccination card. Such documentation must be maintained separately from the employee’s non-medical personnel files as it is considered confidential medical information.
Can I receive unemployment insurance benefits if I refuse to comply with my employer vaccine mandate policy and I am terminated or quit?
According to Delaware law, claimants are not allowed to receive UI benefits if they have violated an employers’ policy when said policy has been clearly and effectively communicated and deemed reasonable in nature. In general, the Delaware Department of Labor deems vaccine requirements to be reasonable. Therefore, failing to comply with a COVID-19 vaccination requirement in most instances would disqualify the claimant from receiving benefits. There may be unique circumstances, such as but not limited to medical and religious exemptions, which require adjudication on a case-by-case basis.