Can your employer require you to get the COVID-19 vaccine? – FindLaw


Close up of a medical syringe with vaccine.

If a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, does your employer require you to be vaccinated as a condition of your employment?

The short answer is yes.

Employers have the authority to do so and so do the government – but whether the state or the private sector will exercise this right is an open question.

With a vaccine at least months later, More than a third Americans are fickle at best about getting a shot of COVID-19 (or shots). Given this, the government might not want to appear to be the big brother here in the land of the free. The government may instead find ways Encouraging people to get vaccinated.

However, employers face less hurdle. They have a vested interest in keeping their workplaces safe; So when a vaccine comes in, they can ask their employees to make a choice: vaccinate or bid farewell to your job.

How long do employers have latitude?

The authority for employers to administer vaccinations comes from the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

OSHA’s position It was clarified in 2009 during an outbreak of H1N1 (“swine flu”) in response to an inquiry from Ohio Congressman Marcy Captur. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said that although it does not require employees to be vaccinated, employers may require vaccinations. “It’s important to note,” OSHA added, “employees need to be properly informed of the benefits of vaccines.”

EEOC released Guidance Regarding employee vaccinations on March 21 this year, during the early days of the pandemic in the United States, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) restricted its guidance to employers covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act – that is, those with 15 A year or more of employees – they concluded that they should “encourage” employees to get vaccinated.

However, the EEOC indicated that under the ADA, an employee can be excused if they have a disability that prevents them from getting vaccinated, and under Title VII they can demonstrate “true religious belief, practice, or observance.”

While the EEOC noted those potential waivers, it also said that COVID-19 poses a special risk that gives employers more freedom in what they can ask employees to keep workplaces safe. The technical term is “direct threat”, which means there is a significant risk that “cannot be eliminated or minimized through reasonable amenities.”

In other words, COVID-19 poses a “direct threat” that will make it difficult for workers to refuse vaccination on the basis of ADA or Title VII and expect to keep their jobs.

Litigation concerns

Employers may still be concerned about a discrimination suit if they enact a strict vaccination policy. However, Debbie Kaminer, Professor of Law at Baruch College He wrote that under Title VII, employers are not required to provide housing if doing so involves more than the minimum cost – and with COVID-19, they are risking more than a small cost.

“Certainly, in the midst of one of the worst public health and financial crises in recent history, there is a huge cost to having an unvaccinated workforce,” Kaminer wrote.

Summarizing this, it is clear that employers have a legal right to require you to get a COVID-19 vaccine in order to preserve your job. Employers have great legal standing to require vaccinations and it might be wise for them to start explaining this fact to their employees. Then again, they have plenty of time – at least several months.

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