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Can Employers Mandate Covid-19 Vaccination?

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    Once a Covid-19 vaccine becomes more widely available, will employers be allowed to require it as a condition of employment? In our opinion, based upon research, the short answer is: Yes. Employers are permitted to implement programs for employees requiring they get vaccinated. However under medical or religious exemptions, some individuals may not be subject to the requirement. Additionally, they must consider if they can provide vaccinations to their employees under their program. We advise employers to be careful not to enforce any policy regarding Covid-19 vaccine without observing CDC guidelines and potential exemptions based on the Americans with Disabilities Act. Prior to making this decision, they should continue to monitor the EEOC and/or attorney specializing in such issues. If you are an Employer looking to mandate Covid-19 vaccines in the workplace, please contact the team at AM Law Group and we will be happy to discuss the eligibility of your program and evaluate the legal repercussions of violating Federal Law.

    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

    RESOURCES:

    https://www.nj.com/coronavirus/2021/01/nj-covid-vaccine-can-employers-require-that-workers-take-the-coronavirus-vaccine.html

    https://www.eeoc.gov/wysk/what-you-should-know-about-covid-19-and-ada-rehabilitation-act-and-other-eeo-laws?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term=

    https://apnews.com/article/can-employers-covid-19-vaccine-mandatory-ba22c99f01f24ea3be7631ff751f0d82

    https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/legal-and-compliance/employment-law/pages/if-workers-refuse-a-covid-19-vaccination.aspx

    https://www.aarp.org/work/working-at-50-plus/info-2020/employer-require-covid-vaccine/

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