House subcommittees hold joint hearing on vaccine mandates and employee accommodations

by | Oct 29, 2021

The U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor’s Subcommittees on Workforce Protections and Civil Rights/Human Services held a joint hearing this week on the issue of vaccine requirements and employee accommodations. Several members raised the difficult issue of how to handle employee requests for religious accommodation with witnesses like Richelle Luther, Vice President at Columbia Sportswear, who pleaded with Rep. Alma Adams, D-North Carolina, for Congress to provide guidance on how employers should handle requests for religious exemption.

Here are a few other interesting exchanges worth watching:

Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Virginia, asks law professor Doron Dorfman of Syracuse University College of Law if an “employer can take into account the impact accommodations might have on customers, co-workers, and others,” and follows up with an inquiry about determining whether employee claims of religious objection are sincere.


Rep. Jahana Hayes, D-Connecticut, discusses the support of faith leaders for vaccination efforts and follows up on the question of religious sincerity.

Later, Rep. Hayes asks Dorfman about the employer’s obligations after agreeing to provide an accommodation. What kind of accommodation is required?


You can watch the entire hearing here. For more on this topic, see my earlier post, surveying recent court rulings in cases involving religious objections to vaccine mandates, and BJC General Counsel Holly Hollman’s column on the subject. This will also be a discussion on a future episode of Respecting Religion.