Defining “Sincerely Held Religious Beliefs” That Might Excuse Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination



The law requires an employer or other covered entity to reasonably accommodate an employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs or practices. As workplaces begin to implement Covid-19 vaccine mandates, the issue of what is a “sincerely held religious belief” has become more important in employment law.


Whether a belief is “sincerely held” is generally an issue of individual credibility. While evidence proving that an employee acted inconsistently with his alleged sincerely held religious belief is relevant to determine whether the belief is sincere, this evidence is difficult to obtain in most cases, and often can be overcome, as sincerely held religious beliefs are not static and often change over time.


Belief in God or gods is not necessary; nontheistic beliefs can also be religious for purposes of the Title VII exemption as long as they “‘occupy in the life of that individual “a place parallel to that filled by . . . God” in traditionally religious persons.’” Fallon v. Mercy Cath. Med. Ctr., 877 F.3d 487, 491 (3d Cir. 2017).


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