Can your Employer Mandate Employees get Vaccinated?

As Covid-19 cases continue to rise, the end may be in sight as the new Covid-19 vaccines have received approval and administration of the vaccines have started. Over the course of 2021 Covid-19 vaccines will hopefully be available for everyone.

Now, as an employer, you may be asking yourself: Can I require my employees to get the Covid-19 vaccine? The answer? It depends.  (Hey we are lawyers!) What do you need to know?  For starters, the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), the federal agency responsible for enforcing federal laws against job discrimination and harassment, recently issued updated guidance that offers direction regarding employer-mandated vaccinations and accommodations for employees who cannot be vaccinated due to a medical or religious reason (this must be a sincerely held religious belief, practice of observance).

Without a medical or religious reason, however, employers can require employees to get vaccinated and may ask an employee for proof of such vaccination. Employers are still bound to accommodate employees who object because of religious or medical reasons that make it unsafe for them to get the vaccine, but of course, there are exceptions to this as well if, for instance, there is an undue hardship to the employer or the possibility that the workplace cannot remain safe if an unvaccinated employee remains. This process is extremely important, as failure to accommodate may expose an employer to potential discrimination or retaliation claims.  Still, excluding an employee who refuses to get vaccinated doesn’t necessarily mean termination either.

As the body of law and regulations regarding COVID-19 vaccinations is rapidly developing, employers should be aware of the obligations they are under to keep their workplace safe, including the option of mandating vaccinations.  Undoubtedly, the EEOC and other state and local agencies (Cal-OSHA, DFEH & more) will continue to provide updated guidance on these overlapping and challenging workplace obligations. Employers should ensure that they understand and are up to date with the legal requirements of mandating a vaccine in the workplace, prior to implementing a Covid-19 vaccine policy. To learn more about mandating Covid-19 vaccines in the workplace, Covid-19 policies and protocols, and your legal obligations to keep your workplace safe here in California, please contact the Employer Lawyers at Chauvel & Glatt.

 

The material in this article, provided by Chauvel & Glatt, is designed to provide informative and current information as of the date of the post. It should not be considered, nor is it intended to constitute, legal advice or promise similar outcomes.  For information on your particular circumstances, please contact Chauvel & Glatt at 650-573-9500. (photo credit: 123rf.com)

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