The New Jersey Department of Health and the Department of Law and Public Safety (which oversees the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights) have issued guidance in the form of FAQs regarding the right of employers to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine under New Jersey law. The guidance generally tracks that published by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in December. A summary of that guidance can be found here.
The New Jersey guidance explains that an employer may require that an employee receive the COVID-19 vaccine in order to return to the workplace, with a few limited exceptions: (1) the employee has a disability related reason, (2) the employee is pregnant or breastfeeding, or (3) the employee has a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance. If any of these three exceptions exists, the employer must engage in the interactive process with the employee and provide a reasonable accommodation from its mandatory vaccine policy, unless doing so would impose an undue burden on its operations or if the risk of COVID-19 transmission to its employees and customers cannot be mitigated. In those circumstances, the employer may exclude the employee from the workplace. However, before terminating employment, the employer should determine if any other rights apply under the EEO laws or other federal, state, and local authorities.
For more information, listen to our Labor and Employment lawyers discuss whether employers should mandate the COVID-19 vaccine on our Business Better Podcast.