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The Legalities of the New COVID Vaccine Mandate

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Nationwide, COVID-19 vaccination rates have begun to plateau, with only 64% of the total U.S. population receiving at least one dose of the vaccine as of September 2021. Reports of even the fully vaccinated getting COVID are on the rise, with the Delta variant accounting for more than 99% of all new cases, prompting an updated COVID vaccine mandate from the Biden administration. As new state and federal vaccine mandates are enacted, affecting different sectors of the population, new COVID vaccination lawsuits have also begun to emerge. If you’ve been the victim of a COVID vaccine injury, it’s important to understand how current legislation could affect the success of a vaccine injury lawsuit.

Previous COVID Vaccine Mandates

In July 2021, President Biden announced his intention to make the COVID vaccine mandatory. That mandate required all federal workers and contractors to either have a COVID-19 vaccine or agree to masking and regular testing. State governments, such as California and New York, also issued their own vaccine mandates for government workers.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have declared that businesses can legally require their staff to have a COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of their employment. When it comes to federal and state governments, officials have limited power to mandate vaccines, but can require vaccines to prevent any transmission of dangerous infectious diseases across international borders and state lines. However, if the government acts as an employer, government officials can require their workers to take the vaccine.

Whom Does the New COVID Vaccine Mandate Affect?

Masked individual receiving shot, potentially due to a COVID vaccine mandate

The most recent mandate (announced by President Biden on September 9th) impacts both private and public companies, and affects approximately 100 million Americans by making the COVID vaccine mandatory for a new segment of the workforce. In addition to those affected by the previous vaccine mandate, all healthcare facilities that receive federal funding must have mandatory vaccinations for their employees, with testing no longer accepted as an alternative.

In addition to the mandate for federal workers, there are many companies mandating COVID vaccine proof from all or some of their employees. According to the new mandate, companies with more than 100 employees will now be required to obtain proof of vaccination from their workers, or will require weekly testing. Companies with vaccine mandates already in effect include Google, Walmart, Facebook, Goldman Sachs, and McDonald’s. According to Reuters, almost half of U.S. companies plan to implement a COVID vaccine mandate by the end of the year. The survey reports that the number of employers planning a vaccine mandate rose from 21% to 52%.

Can you refuse a COVID test following the new COVID vaccine mandate?

While some of the regulations in the new mandate do not allow a testing alternative, most U.S. workers affected will still have the option to take weekly COVID tests if they do not want the vaccine. Those who do not have options for testing include federal employees and contractors, as well as healthcare workers in federally funded facilities.

Employees in sectors affected by the mandate who refuse the vaccine on religious grounds (or due to certain health conditions) may be able to claim exemption, but most other employees who do not comply with the mandate can face severe consequences, including termination from their place of work. Companies may also face up to a $13,600 fine for every violation of the new vaccine mandate.

Recent COVID-19 Vaccine Lawsuits

Despite the mandate, thousands of New York health care workers still refuse to take a mandatory COVID vaccine. In September 2021, two separate lawsuits were filed against New York State for its mandatory vaccines: one claiming religious exemption, and another claiming violation of constitutional rights. The federal appeals court has also delayed a vaccine mandate for more than 150,000 employees of New York City’s public schools. At Michigan State University, an employee sued the university during the month of August over the school’s vaccine mandate, citing that anyone with antibodies from COVID-19 should be allowed an exemption.

Pursuing a COVID Vaccine Injury Lawsuit

As new COVID vaccine mandates emerge, associated COVID-19 lawsuits can also be expected to follow. Although successfully pursuing a COVID-19 lawsuit may be difficult at this time, future cases and their rulings may alter the legal landscape.

If you need guidance in regard to a mandatory COVID vaccine, or are looking to sue over a COVID vaccine mandate related injury or other medical injury, the team at Avrek Law may be able to help. We have recovered more than $1 billion for our clients and have resolved over 10,000 personal injury cases. Contact our team to request a free consultation, or read more about our “no win, no fee” policy today!

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