Synopsis: Mandating vaccinations in the workplace? Surprising Guidance from EEOC… But Do You Want to Step in that Bear Trap? Thoughts and Opinions by John P. Campbell.


Editor’s Comment: As U.S. employers struggle to get their mind around the “rebuttable presumption” of workplace Covid-19 exposure, a new host of questions are emerging with the arrival of vaccinations.


With most front line workers and many elderly nursing home folks now vaccinated, the roll-out of vaccinations to the greater American workforce is afoot. Naturally, we are getting questions from clients and insurers:


Should we as employers mandate vaccinations for the health and safety of all employees? We feel the better question: Do you want to? 

We were quite surprised to see a guidance memo from the EEOC suggest that employers can compel vaccinations… or to put it more accurately, make vaccination a condition of continued employment by asking for vaccine verification. The EEOC memo reasoned that vaccinations are not “medical examinations” as defined under the ADA, so there is no inherent HIPAA violation with such an inquiry, stating “if a vaccine is administered to an employee by an employer for protection against contracting COVID-19, the employer is not seeking information about an individual’s impairments or current health status and, therefore, it is not a medical examination.”

While not explicitly stating it, this language at least implies that U.S. employers may require employees to be vaccinated as a condition for continued employment. Note that some employers in the medical field, such a hospitals who would vaccinate their own employees, may need to inquire into medical background before administering the vaccine, so we question whether that ADA line is crossed regarding inquiring into an employee’s private medical background. There would be no such concern for employers who simply require their workers to find a third party to administer the vaccine.

Despite this guidance from the EEOC, we fear that compelling vaccination of your workforce opens Pandora’s Box to a host of potential pitfalls and potential liability:


  • Employees may assert religious or medical basis to refuse vaccination and then ADA accommodation obligations comes into play for the employer. Is the medical basis valid? How deep do you dig into medical or religious background to determine if the basis is “valid”? Does the refusal of the vaccine create a legitimate health or safety risk to other employees? Any rejection of these religious or medical excuses may invite an adverse employment claim.


  • If the medical basis for refusing the vaccine is valid, now an accommodation under the ADA interactive process will be triggered. Do you allow permanent work from home? Re-assignment or relocation?


  • While limited thus far, we have some reports of adverse reaction to the vaccine. If employers “mandate” vaccination and an adverse reaction occurs, it won’t take long for a Petitioner’s attorney to come calling.


In this vein, Illinois employers should also be aware of Section 2 (d) of the Occupational Disease Act dealing with compensability for injuries resulting from adverse reaction to inoculations. The Act provides in relevant part:

Any injury to or disease or death of an employee arising from the administration of a vaccine…as part of a voluntary inoculation program in connection with the person’s employment or in connection with any governmental program or recommendation for the inoculation of workers in the employee’s occupation, geographical area, or other category that includes the employee is deemed to arise out of and in the course of the employment for all purposes under this Act. 


While we certainly don’t intend to  discourage a wide-spread inoculation effort, we must warn that a company sponsored inoculation program may appear employer “directed” rather than voluntary.

Our best advice is to avoid these pitfalls and potential legal landmines. Rather than requiring the vaccine of your workforce, strongly encourage vaccination of your employees by providing information on availability and allowing them time off work if a scheduled vaccination is during work hours. Such a policy promotes a safe work environment but also avoids the stickier issues outlined above. Whatever we do, let’s work as Americans to rid our country and the world of this curse.


This article was researched and written by John P. Campbell, Partner at Keefe, Campbell, Biery & Associates, LLC.



Synopsis: Shawn R. Biery’s Famous IL WC Rate Sheet with All-New IL PPD Max Now Available! Get a Free Copy TODAY!!!


Editor’s comment: As the IL minimum wages increase, so do the WC rates. Our IL WC Commission (IWCC) posts new rates and Max PPD rate has increased significantly–UPDATE RETROACTIVELY(!).


To any of our readers and/or fans, Send a Reply to Marissa to Get a Free Copy of Shawn R. Biery’s Updated IL WC Rate-Sheet!


There will continue to be IL WC Rate increases because the statewide minimum wage is going to increase steadily for the next several years. Please don’t shoot the messenger, we are not even sure it won’t go higher before the new car smell is off the freshly laminated Rate Chart you will soon receive.


As mentioned before, twice every year, starting in the 1980’s, the IL WC Act provides a formula which effectively insures no matter how poor the IL economy is doing, your IL WC rates keep climbing.


We caution our readers to pay attention to the fact the IL WC statutory maximum PPD rate is now $871.73 (significantly up from $836.69).


When it was published, this IL PPD Max rate changed retroactively from July 1, 2020 to present. If you reserved a claim based on the prior IL WC PPD rate for the period from July 1 to right now, your reserves are wrong. CHECK YOUR IL MAX PPD RATE CLAIMS!


If you have a claim with a date of loss after July 2020 and a max PPD rate, you need to take a look and see if the new maximum PPD rate applies and, if it does, immediately reset reserves to insure accuracy.


To recap the other changes from January 2021:


  • The current TTD weekly maximum has risen to $1,613.93.


  • An IL worker has to make over $2,420.90 per week or $125,886.80 per year to hit the new IL WC maximum TTD rate.


  • The new IL WC minimum death or T&P rate also went up.


  • The IL WC minimum death benefit is 25 years of compensation or $605.23 per week x 52 weeks in a year x 25 years equaling a staggering $786,799.00! Yes, if Claimant makes $100 a week in a part-time job and dies in a work-related accident, the benefit can be over $786K.


  • The new maximum IL WC death benefit is $1,613.93 times 52 weeks times 25 years or a lofty $2,098,109.00 plus burial benefits of $8K.


On top of this massive benefit, Illinois employers/governments have to contribute to a fund to pay COLA increases under the Rate Adjustment Fund that may double that already-high benefit, depending on the CPI.


The best way to make sense of all of this is to get Shawn Biery’s free, colorful, updated and easy-to-understand IL WC Rate Sheet.


If you want it, simply email Marissa at and include your mailing address if you would like to be mailed a laminated copy & you can also copy Shawn at with any questions, and his great team will get a copy routed to you before rates rise again.


Shawn remains your go-to defense source on any issue relating to IL WC rates!