The COVID-19 Vaccine: Can Employers Require Employees to Be Vaccinated?

Construction Executive

In an article published online in Construction Executive, Partners Stephen Walsh and Jonathan Head, along with Associate Ethan Wilkinson, discuss whether employers can require employees to be vaccinated.

From office spaces to construction sites, employers want to ensure the health and safety of their employees. But in the COVID-19 world, a “safe workplace” looks different than what it has in the past. As the COVID-19 vaccine is rolled out across the country, can employers require workers to be vaccinated?

“According to guidance issued by the EEOC on December 16, 2020, the short answer is that, yes, in most cases employers can require employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of employment; however, there are several important exceptions,” the authors write.

These exceptions include accommodating employees who cannot receive the vaccine due to medical disabilities in compliance with the American Disabilities Act, as well as religious beliefs, practices or observances that prevent them from being vaccinated.

“The employer should consider whether the employee could work remotely or on a different schedule, along with other potential accommodations,” the authors explain. “If no accommodation is available, the EEOC guidance provides that the employer should again consider whether any other rights apply to protect the employee before making a decision to terminate.”

Walsh, Head and Wilkinson further explain federal and state law considerations as well as workers’ compensation issues related to the vaccine.

“Vaccination can be a powerful tool for ensuring safe workplaces, but it also carries certain inherent risks,” they write. “Employers considering mandatory vaccine polices need to be aware of these risks and the legal implications of their policy decisions. Employers need to consult their labor and employment counsel regarding these important decisions and should also ensure that their employees are afforded an appropriate avenue to discuss any questions or concerns they may have regarding any vaccine policy implemented by the company.”

For the full article, click here.

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