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Can Your Employer Require a COVID Vaccine?

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With more than 60% of the adult population in the United States considered fully vaccinated from COVID-19, many companies are now calling for their employees to return to the office from remote working. However, many people across the country are still hesitant to get the vaccine. This leaves employees in a tough place when working for companies with a COVID vaccine mandate. It begs the question: Can your employer require a COVID vaccine?

Can a Company Mandate COVID Vaccine Requirements?

The simple answer is that yes, companies can require a mandatory COVID vaccine. But, COVID-19 has taught the world to expect the unexpected, and laws surrounding COVID-19 are coming into shape as we speak. Many of those questions are being actively litigated. In New Mexico, a federal judge denied a county employee’s request for a preliminary injunction. If granted, it would have barred the county from punishing him for his refusal to get a mandatory vaccine. This was part of the country’s first lawsuit over a mandatory COVID vaccine.

In late July of 2021, California became the first state to announce that all state employees and healthcare workers will soon be required to show proof of immunization records or undergo frequent testing. Other cities have made similar announcements including New York City, San Francisco, and Pasadena. A few days after California’s mandate, President Joe Biden also announced that all federal workers would be required to either prove their vaccination status or follow strict COVID-19 safety procedures.

Previously, many healthcare and child-care workers were required to have vaccinations, but this is a new concept for the general population. For most industries, jobs that require vaccinations will be less common, and the majority of employers are expected to provide alternative safety options as opposed to receiving the vaccine. This includes wearing mandatory masks, practicing social distancing, continuing with remote working, or undergoing consistent testing for those who do not want the COVID-19 vaccine. Every business will assess the context of the situation, workplace, and employee’s needs.

Woman in mask receiving shot, begging the question: can your employer require a COVID vaccine?

Exemptions to the COVID Vaccine Mandate

Exemptions can be made in special cases, according to several statutes that protect employees.  Some possible exemptions can fall under the following:

  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): Those who have certain disabilities can choose not to be vaccinated. An employer must reasonably accommodate a disability-related person who cannot receive the vaccine.
  • Religious Objections: Under the employment statute Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, those who have a serious religious objection to vaccinations are protected as employees. An employer must provide accommodation unless it creates an undue hardship for the company.
  • Health Limitations: Further health limitations are also covered under the ADA. This covers those who upon receiving the vaccine would be placed in a dangerous or inappropriate position.

For those looking to seek exemptions for one of the above reasons, note that employers can ask for proof from pastors or physicians for an exemption from a COVID vaccine mandate.

Disputing a Mandatory COVID Vaccine

Required vaccinations may leave you in a difficult situation with your employer. If you are looking to sue for a vaccine-related injury or medical negligence, an experienced injury attorney can guide you through the litigation process. Avrek Law has resolved more than 10,000 cases, recovering over $1 billion for our clients. We serve California, Arizona, and Nevada and have a “no win, no fee” policy. To learn more, feel free to contact our team.

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