EEOC Guidance on Religious Exemption to COVID Vaccination Mandates

On October 25, 2021, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued updated technical assistance guidance on religious objections/exemptions to mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirements by employers.  You can read the updated technical assistance guidance at “section L.”

The key updates to the technical assistance are summarized below:

  • Employees and applicants must inform their employers if they seek an exception
    to an employer’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement due to a sincerely held religious
    belief, practice, or observance, but employees and applicants and not required to
    use specific language like “religious exemption.”
  • Generally, under Title VII, employers should assume that a request for religious
    accommodation is based on a sincerely held religious belief.  If there is an
    objective basis for questioning either the religious nature or the sincerity of a
    particular belief, the employer would be justified in making a limited factual
    inquiry and seeking additional supporting information.
  • Title VII requires employers to consider requests for religious accommodations
    but does not protect social, political, or economic views, or personal preferences
    of employees who seek exceptions to a COVID-19 vaccination requirement.
  • Employers that demonstrate “undue hardship” are not required to accommodate
    an employee’s request for a religious accommodation.
  • Potential accommodations may include remote work or reassignment.

It is important to remember that it is unlawful for an employer to retaliate against an employee for requesting an accommodation based on a religious objection to vaccination.

The EEOC’s guidance answers COVID-19 questions only from the perspective of the EEO laws. Other federal, state, and local laws come into play regarding the COVID-19 pandemic for employers, employees, and applicants. Please let us know if you need assistance from the GAFFNEYLEWIS LLC employment law team regarding any COVID-19 questions, please reach out to us at (803) 790-8838.

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Ways to support individuals who may be Impacted by a diagnosis of Breast Cancer

Throughout Breast Cancer Awareness Month, GaffneyLewis, LLC is highlighting ways that you can support individuals in your life who may be impacted by a diagnosis of breast cancer. Unfortunately, the statistics show that most of us know someone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Individuals who have walked this path have generously offered the following suggestions for ways you can actively support those who are fighting breast cancer.

1. Cards and Letters: It is always nice to receive a note or card from a friend. For cancer patients, letters can offer emotional support and are a way of communication that allows the patient to receive the support without feeling like they need to craft an immediate reply. Fielding calls and in-person visits can sometimes be difficult when you are feeling physically ill, but letters can provide much-needed comfort during those times and can be revisited long after the treatment concludes.

2. Help for Spouse and Family: Cancer does not only affect the patient, there is a ripple effect across the patient’s life. This diagnosis can transform a family member’s occupation into a full-time caretaker. Having emotional and tangible support for a patient’s family is essential for supporting both the cancer patient and their family. An example of this may be ordering dinner for the family. Another way you can support the patient’s family is by offering to update the family’s circle of friends and supporters on news or updates.

3. Prayers and Affirmations: Knowing that you are on someone’s mind or that people are praying for you or sending you good thoughts is a loving way of sending encouragement and comfort.

4. Soft hats, socks, and blankets: Providing tangible physical comfort items to a cancer patient is a great way to provide support and acknowledge a loved one’s physical needs. A soft blanket can make a hospital room feel more like home, provide comfort, and can be used after their treatment ends.

5. Be present: Oftentimes cancer treatment can feel isolating. The patient’s friends and family cannot relate to the specific struggles the patient faces and may feel awkward asking about it or even connecting to share details about their lives. This social disconnection can compound feelings of isolation. Having friends and family who consistently check in and are emotionally present in the struggle can make the experience better. When in doubt about how you can help someone with cancer, just ask.

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GaffneyLewis is Going Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness

October 1, 2021 – October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and the law firm of GaffneyLewis is going pink to raise awareness and show support for survivors and honor those whose battle has ended.

According to the National Breast Cancer foundation, in 2021, an estimated 281,550 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in the U.S. as well as 49,290 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer. It is estimated that 1 in 8 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. Except for skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women and there are over 3.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.

“We all know someone who has breast cancer,” said founding partner Amy Gaffney.  “During October the firm will sponsor or participate in several fundraising events to benefit breast cancer research and to raise awareness of breast cancer. These are several ways we can demonstrate our solidarity and commitment to supporting our breast cancer warriors in-house and in our communities.”

To support the firm’s fundraising efforts click here to donate.

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Three GaffneyLewis LLC Partners Named to The Best Lawyers in America® 2022

GaffneyLewis LLC is pleased to announce that partners Amy L. Gaffney, Regina Hollins Lewis, and Randi Lynn Roberts have been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© 2022.

Recognition by practice areas include:

Amy Gaffney (since 2012)

  • Employment Law – Individuals (2022 Columbia “Lawyer of the Year”)
  • Employment Law – Management
  • Litigation – Labor and Employment

Regina Hollins Lewis (since 2021)

  • Mediation

Randi Lynn Roberts (since 2021)

  • Commercial Litigation

Since first published in 1983, Best Lawyers® has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence. Best Lawyers lists are compiled based on an exhaustive peer-review evaluation. For the 2021 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America©, 9.4 million votes were analyzed, which resulted in more than 67,000 leading lawyers being included in the new edition.

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GaffneyLewis Founding Partners Named to “Legal Elite” 2021

August 11, 2021 – Two attorneys from the law firm of GaffneyLewis, LLC have been included in the 2021 Legal Elite of the Midlands and Legal Elite of the Low Country.

Attorneys recognized in the publication include:

  • Amy L. Gaffney (Charleston) – Labor and Employment
  • Regina Hollins Lewis (Columbia) – Labor and Employment

Gaffney, a founding partner working in the firm’s Charleston office, is a litigation attorney representing individuals and some companies throughout the state of South Carolina in employment and tort matters. Gaffney is also a certified mediator and has been involved in the resolution of hundreds of state and federal employment and tort cases.

Lewis, a founding partner based out of the firm’s Columbia office, has over 33 years of civil litigation and appellate experience. She is also a certified mediator and regularly mediates employment and tort matters throughout the state of South Carolina.

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