Employers have the legal right to mandate coronavirus vaccines.
It’s not true that companies who mandate coronavirus vaccines are in violation of federal laws — including the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Employers have the legal right to mandate that their employees receive a COVID-19 vaccination, according to guidance released by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Dec. 16.
That’s because employers are allowed to set “a requirement that an individual shall not pose a direct threat to the health or safety of individuals in the workplace” — which includes some vaccines. As for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a regulatory agency that sets and enforces protective workplace safety and health standards, the agency has not yet issued guidance on mandatory coronavirus vaccines.
In the past, though, both the EEOC and OSHA have ruled that it is legal for employers to mandate flu vaccines, per the National Law Review.
There is no indication that they will decide differently on coronavirus vaccines.
There are some exceptions
There are exceptions for employees with disabilities or “sincerely held” religious beliefs, categories of workers who are protected by the ADA and Title VII.
In those instances, employers must prove that an unvaccinated employee poses a “significant risk of substantial harm to the health or safety of the individual or others” in the workplace and attempt to provide them with “reasonable accommodation.”
If there is no reasonable accommodation, though, it is lawful for the employer to “exclude the employee from the workplace” — and in some cases, terminate them, per USA TODAY.
Employees who don’t receive vaccine can be fired
Helen Rella, a workplace attorney at the law firm Wilk Auslander, explained the practical implications of the guidance to CBS News.
“The logical conclusion is that if no possible accommodation can be made and the employee’s job requires that they be in the physical workplace – and they pose a direct threat to the safety of the workplace or others – that yes, they could be terminated,” Rella said.
Have questions? Talk to your HR department
If you have questions about the vaccine protocol for your company, talk to HR. They likely have a plan in place regarding a vaccination policy and will communicate their goals and priorities to the larger organization.
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