Can Employers Mandate Covid-19 Vaccination?
Vaccine requirements are nothing new- even pets are required to have their shots- but the ones available for Covid-19 are a little different. Here’s why.
Covid-19 vaccines are currently under an Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA.
Experts in labor and employment law, say there is not a clear basis in the law for an employer to require employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19 under that EUA.
It is possible that the Federal government could later make an exception for COVID-19, but there’s no indication that it will.
Healthcare workers at Methodist Dallas Medical Center were some of the first North Texans to get a COVID-19 vaccine in December, it was voluntary. Parkland Health and Hospital Systems function the same way.
Once the Covid-19 vaccines are fully approved by the FDA, however, there’s no doubt that they can be mandated by employers.
In December, the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission published guidance verifying employers can require the COVID-19 vaccine unless an employee has a religious or medical exemption, however just because employers could require the vaccine does not mean they will.
Companies would have to manage exemption requests and could open themselves up to legal disputes.
If employees are already working from home and limiting their exposure to each other, companies may not want to take on a vaccine requirement.
Instead, specific industries where potential exposure is tougher to manage, will likely require the vaccine. Employees in healthcare or manufacturing could anticipate a vaccine requirement in the future. Work environments that require close proximity with others, and in which remote work is not possible are likely to see vaccine mandates in the future.
Many companies are doing their best to encourage vaccinations within their organizations by purchasing doses for their employees to make them available. This is an evolving legal issue and we will continue to provide updates from he Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Americans with Disability Act.
These statements are not considered legal advice, but are merely an educational resource and does not constitute an attorney-client relationship.
-Written by D.M. Eaton