COVID-19 Vaccine: To Mandate Or Not To Mandate
In an HR.com article, Weinberg Wheeler Hudgins Gunn & Dial Partner Matt Gomes and Associate Will Ortiz provide guidance for employers grappling with questions of whether to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for employers amidst the rapidly spreading Omicron variant.
In the article, Gomes and Ortiz explain the legal implications of requiring employee vaccinations and how most companies are currently navigating the situation. While Gomes and Ortiz confirm that employers can mandate vaccinations, they said there are exceptions to the rule: “Guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission indicates that a mandatory vaccination program is not prohibited under federal anti-discrimination laws, but [it] must account for potential accommodation obligations and other legal nuances,” specifically for those who cannot receive the vaccine due to a medical disability or sincerely held religious belief.
Gomes and Ortiz also warn that employers must exercise caution when inquiring about employee vaccination status, ensuring “inquiries are job-related and consistent with business necessity.” While vaccine mandates can be a powerful tool in ensuring workplace safety, alternatives, including strongly encouraging the vaccine, are also an option, especially for those employers unaware of the inherent risks of a mandate.