Millions of U.S. employees are or will be subject to COVID-19 vaccination mandates, whether imposed by their employers or by the government. For some workers, compliance with a vaccine mandate conflicts with a sincerely held religious belief.
Persons who object to the COVID-19 vaccine on religious grounds have the right under the First Amendment to request an exemption and accommodation on those grounds. In order to request an exemption and accommodation, you must:
- Clearly state your religious objections in your own words. Getting a letter from your priest, pastor, rabbi, or other religious leader is not required; conversely, you can still get an exemption even if your religious leader has no objection to the vaccine. It’s all about your personal religious belief.
- Stick to your religious reasons, not any other objections you may have. Don’t say anything about the safety or efficacy of the vaccine itself; this will only muddy the waters and create an opening for your employer to deny your exemption. Your sincerely held religious beliefs are enough.
- Show that accommodating your exemption would not be an “undue hardship” for your employer. Your employer doesn’t have to accommodate you in the exact way you request, but they must engage in an interactive process to find a reasonable accommodation.
Below, find more resources on religious exemptions from the COVID-19 vaccine:
- Religious Exemption from Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination for U.S. Military Personnel
- Religious Accommodation Requests for Air Force Personnel - AFDW/CC
- Religious Accommodation Flow Chart
- Sample Letter Requesting Military Religious Exemption
We are strong supporters of the basic Constitutional right of all Americans to freedom of religion and believe in the right of people of faith to make healthcare decisions consistent with their religious convictions. If you have a sincerely held belief that an employer will not accommodate, don’t hesitate to speak with an experienced attorney about your rights and options.