Q: Our company was trying to avoid making vaccination mandatory, so we’ve created incentives including scheduling the vaccine during working hours and paying and not having to wear a mask indoors. That was before the Delta variant. Like many employers last week, we decided that it is not safe for vaccinated employees to be around unvaccinated employees. We know that some staff will oppose the mandate. Are we exposing ourselves to a lawsuit by making this a requirement?
ON: I’m glad big employers (Walmart, Disney) are finally making the vaccine mandatory and making it more socially acceptable for other employers to do the same. The widespread reluctance of employers to request the vaccine before the Delta variant was mainly social. In my opinion, the legal basis for this has always been pretty good. Here are two reasons:
FirstMonths ago, the EEOC issued guidance stating that employers can require the vaccine as long as they make exemptions to comply with the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and religious exemptions for “righteous beliefs” under Title VII.
That said, employees who claim they cannot get the vaccine because of a disability or religious belief will need housing – they may be allowed to work from home. to work different schedules; to be on leave; or daily tests for COVID.
More experienced in the workplace: Dealing with the Delta variant at the workplace is like putting on a seat belt for safe driving
And:Workplace Savvy: Delta variant in the workplace raises new concerns for entrepreneurs
By the way:UF employees apply for mandatory COVID-19 vaccines for the fall
Incidentally, employees who claim a feigned disability or religious exemption to avoid the vaccine are quick to discover that what constitutes a “disability” and “genuine religious belief” in the workplace is defined by law and not easy to play with . For example, being claustrophobia is not a disability, and the claim that “God is my protector” is not a religious exception.
The second reason why the vaccine request is legally flawless is a recent positive decision from a judge in Texas who dismissed a case and sided with the employer.
The case concerned a hospital that prescribed the vaccine and gave staff two weeks to adhere to it. More than 150 employees who refused were either laid off or resigned. 117 of them sued the hospital, claiming that the vaccine requirement was against public order because it was experimental as it did not have full FDA approval. The judge disagreed and dismissed the appealed case.
Emergency:Alachua County declares a local state of emergency due to COVID-19 spike
While there is no bulletproof workplace policy that cannot be challenged in some way, I would say that employers requiring vaccination against a potentially fatal / debilitating infectious disease during a pandemic are legally impeccable. And if I may, it’s time.
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