Delta Déjà Vu: What’s Modified (or Not) about COVID Vaccinations within the Office?

As summer 2021 began, masks were removed and vaccinations increased. Many people started traveling again for the first time in over a year. Most thought we had reached the light at the end of the tunnel. Fast forward to the end of summer and COVID-19 hospital stays are on the rise, especially in the deep southern United States. According to the latest data from the US Department of Health, up to 2,500 patients are hospitalized every day. The surge has even resulted in some of the country’s most notable cities, including San Francisco and New Orleans, requiring proof of vaccination for entry into certain indoor spaces. Many employers are currently rethinking plans to implement COVID-19 vaccination guidelines. Employers can encourage and require employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccination, subject to the exemptions for employees with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and sincere religious beliefs under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII .). ). Before implementing a mandatory vaccination policy, however, it is crucial that employers develop a strategy that takes several important aspects into account. The strategy should include a risk assessment, the development of well-defined guidelines, protocols for collecting records, procedures for reviewing exception requests, and procedures for employees who lie about their vaccination status.

Current vaccination decisions

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is consistent with its position that employers can mandate vaccinations. A Texas federal court recently upheld this position on June 12 in Bridges v. Houston Methodist Hospital, File Number 4: 21-cv-01774 (SD Tex. June 01, 2021). In Bridges, the court dismissed the case that challenged the hospital’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for employees. The court ruled that the vaccination policy was “in line with public order” and not illegal. This case is noteworthy as it is the first court ruling to address the ability of employers to require workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The decision is also noteworthy in that it rejects the argument put forward in other cases against mandatory vaccination guidelines in the employment context that such guidelines are prohibited by the Federal Food, Drugs and Cosmetics Act (FDCA).

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