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Exemption, Reasonable Accommodation, and Interactive Process for Mandatory Employee COVID-19 Vaccination

 

Overview

Nova Southeastern University’s Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination Policy for Employees allows employees or individuals receiving offers of employment to request exemption from the mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirements based upon qualifying reasons as outlined in the policy and below.

 

Exemption and Reasonable Accommodation

Employees and individuals accepting an offer of employment who have need of exemption from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine may qualify for one of the following exemption options:  

(a) an underlying medical condition or disability that contraindicates administration of the COVID-19 vaccine

(b) pregnancy or pregnancy-related medical condition, or

(c) objection based upon a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance

Florida state law requires employers to offer employees with a regular assigned work location in the state of Florida the opportunity to opt-out of a mandatory vaccinated requirement by electing one of the following exemptions:

(d) COVID-19 immunity as evidenced by positive laboratory diagnostic or antibody test results

(e) requested exemption contingent upon submitting to periodic testing at NSU’s expense,  

(f) use of personal protective equipment provided by NSU upon request in the presence of others in the workplace (or another location when representing NSU), or

(g) anticipated pregnancy

Only NSU employees assigned to an NSU main campus, regional campus, or office location within the state of Florida may elect options (d) through (g).

Please note that any employee approved for exemption is required to strictly comply with NSU’s COVID-19 Protocols for Non-Vaccinated Employees that include wearing a KN-95 or equivalent quality mask, social distancing and other health and safety requirements. 

**Special note: Employees at certified NSU healthcare facilities that participate in Medicare or Medicaid are covered under the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) rule and limited to exemption options (a) through (c). Please refer to the Mandatory Covid-19 Vaccination Policy for Employees special requirements section for more information.**

NSU will provide exemption from the vaccination requirement and engage in an interactive process to determine if a reasonable accommodation can be provided so long as it does not create an undue hardship for NSU and/or does not pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others in the workplace and/or to the employee. A completed Request for Exemption from Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination & Reasonable Accommodation Form (Request for Exemption Form) must be submitted to the Office of Human Resources (OHR) to begin the interactive accommodation process prior to commencement of employment or continuation of employment.

Individuals receiving offers of employment are required to timely comply with the mandatory vaccination policy (by providing either proof of vaccination or receipt of OHR vaccine exemption approval) prior to the commencement of employment. Individuals receiving offers of employment from NSU who do not timely comply with this policy may have their offer of employment rescinded.

Current NSU employees who transition from a full-time remote work location to an on-ground or hybrid work location and who are not fully vaccinated or approved exempted must comply with the Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination Policy for Employees. Employees must fulfill policy requirements to either become vaccinated and enter the date of completed vaccination the NSU Vax Max portal or obtain an approved exemption.

Accommodations will be granted where they do not create an undue hardship for NSU and/or do not pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others in the workplace and/or to the employee.

 

Procedure

An employee requesting an exemption from the COVID-19 vaccination and who may need a reasonable accommodation must submit a completed Request for Exemption Form with any required supporting documentation.

The following documentation is required for an exemption and the determination of any reasonable accommodations:

(a),(b) Medical and pregnancy exemptions require the employee’s provision of written certification (see NSU Medical Certification Form) completed by a licensed treating medical provider (e.g., a physician (MD or DO)), nurse practitioner (NP), or physician’s assistant (PA).

Employees of the Puerto Rico campus: Written certification must be provided by physician licensed in Puerto Rico.

(c) Religious exemptions will be determined based upon the employee’s submission of the Request for Exemption form and, if requested by NSU, supporting documentation to verify and/or support the employee’s sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance. Such additional documentation does not take any specific form and is determined on a case-by-case basis. If an employee cannot provide additional information upon request, the employee will need to provide a written explanation as to why they are unable to do so.

Employees of the Puerto Rico campus: Written affidavit containing the signature of the leader of the religion or sect must accompany request for exemption.

Employees with a regular assigned work location in the state of Florida may request a state-authorized exemption based on the following documentation:

(d) Exemption by COVID-19 immunity requires completion and submission of the Florida Exemption from COVID-19 Vaccination Based on COVID-19 Immunity Form with attachment of positive laboratory results, which will be reviewed by the NSU Office of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) and approved by OHR.

(e) Participation in periodic testing requires only the Request for Exemption Form and will be reviewed by EHS and approved by OHR. 

(f) Agreement to use of employer-provided personal protective equipment when approved will require a signed protocols agreement statement, to be provided by OHR upon approval.

(g) Anticipated pregnancy require the employee’s provision of written certification (see NSU Medical Certification Form) completed by a licensed treating medical provider (e.g., a physician (MD or DO)), nurse practitioner (NP), or physician’s assistant (PA).

 

Interactive Process

After receipt of an employee's request for exemption, OHR will review the documentation submitted and engage in the interactive process with the employee to clarify the nature of the request, determine exemption eligibility, and identify potential reasonable accommodations (with assistance from the supervisor, and/or college/unit administration where necessary).

Granting an Exemption/Reasonable Accommodation

For exemption reasons of medical, pregnancy, or agreement to use employer-provided personal protective equipment, OHR will provide a decision letter when an exemption is granted noting the duration of the exemption and any required resubmission by the employee and recertification by OHR.  If an accommodation is granted, OHR will describe the nature and scope of the accommodation including any required protective equipment and/or modifications to the employee’s workplace or work life.

For exemption reasons of COVID-19 immunity or request to submit to periodic testing, the Office of Environmental Health and Safety will provide a decision letter when an exemption is granted, including the duration of the exemption and any other terms or conditions that apply.

NOTE: All approved exemptions will result in the requirement of exempted employees to agree to follow a list of safety protocols as a condition of approval. Protocols include the use of NSU-provided personal protective equipment when engaging in in-person work activities such as being present in classrooms, offices, facilities and other work locations, and meeting with students, colleagues, or community members regardless of location. The protocols include masking and social distancing and may be adapted as needed to specific employee situations in an effort to minimize risk of exposure (subject to change as circumstances warrant and new information is received about COVID-19 and workplace safety measures).

Denying an Exemption/Reasonable Accommodation

OHR will provide notice in writing when an exemption and/or accommodation is denied with a notation of the reason for the denial. Denial of an exemption and/or reasonable accommodation request may be reviewed through NSU’s appeal process.

 Exemption Appeal Process

An employee who is denied an exemption by OHR may appeal the decision by submission of a completed Appeal for Denial of a Requested Exemption from the COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination Policy to OHR within five (5) calendar days (Monday – Friday) of receipt of the decision denying exemption. Filing of appeal does not extend the deadline for an employee to comply with the Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination Policy for Employees. Submit the completed appeal form to ohr-ada@nova.edu.

The panel reviewing the employee’s appeal shall consist of Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Dr. Harry Moon, Vice President of Human Resources Robert Pietrykowski, Dean of the Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Allopathic Medicine Dr. Johannes Vieweg, and Dean of the Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine Dr. Elaine Wallace. The appeal panel may request additional information from the employee and/or OHR, and additional medical documentation from the employee. The appeal panel may decide to affirm OHR’s denial or overturn OHR’s denial and grant the employee’s request in whole or in part.

Please direct any questions regarding this policy to Director of Benefits Larry Cox at lc120@nova.edu.

 

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