Don’t fall for this anti-vaxxer workplace hack.

Hey, they can’t all be hip hop HR posts. But, you’ll be thanking me for helping to sleuth out what appears to be a big medical and religious  COVID-19 vaccination accommodation scam now percolating on the West Coast and coming soon to a city near you.

Actually, let’s thank my colleague, Simone McCormick, for the heads up. Simone told me that the new California vaccine mandate for health care providers is generating more discussion about exemptions and has invited potential employee fraud.

There is lots of help online to assert the right to medical and religious exemptions. Simone forwarded one to me, which tries to help employees obtain medical and religious exceptions from employers to avoid mandatory COVID-19 vaccination rules.

The “basic” package religious exemption package with documents (no additional follow-up) will run you $39. That includes “a personalized exemption letter” and “a signed attestation of faith from Pastor David,” plus “additional supporting documents.”

Or an employee can pay $129 for the “concierge” version, “with unlimited access to weekly private group consulting from Peggy and Pastor David via live online sessions.”

If your BS meter is at a 9, here is a list of religions with no theological objection to vaccination. Is this list definitive for accommodation purposes? No, as Jon Hyman notes in this blog post:

The EEOC does not limit its definition of a religious belief, practice, or observance to those that are espoused by an actual religion. The EEOC’s definition also includes moral or ethical beliefs as to what is right and wrong that are sincerely held with the strength of traditional religious views. Moreover, per the EEOC the fact that no religious group espouses such beliefs or the fact that the religious group to which the individual professes to belong may not accept such belief will not determine whether the belief is a protected religious belief of the employee. 

So, as I noted last week, an employer should focus on a possible accommodation and whether it would impose an undue hardship. The most common accommodations will involve a combination of masking, social distancing, and regular testing.
But, Jon highlighted, an alternative to “quickly flush out the legitimate from the illegitimate religious objectors.”

An unpaid leave of absence may be a reasonable accommodation. On the one hand, expect scrutiny for any accommodation involving loss of pay or benefits where others are available.

However, Jon writes that leave from work “will create the least amount of friction with your vaccinated employees, who might resent the unvaxxed who get to continue to work from home as a religious accommodation.”

Above all, in a situation like this, please involve your outside employment counsel.


“Doing What’s Right – Not Just What’s Legal”
Contact Information