Employers mandating the COVID-19 vaccine is a concern for a lot of employees. As offices begin to open, employers are requiring their employees to show proof of vaccination. Many employees question how a company can force something upon their body, and whether it is legal to do so.
If you do not have a valid legal reason, like a religious belief or disability, your employer may be able to require you to get the COVID-19 vaccine under federal law. You may soon be protected under state law, as there are over 40 states with pending legislation limiting employers involvement with mandating vaccinations. However, as of today, all legislation is still pending (see below).
Federal Employment Laws
According to guidance from the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, private employers can generally require that all worksite employees get vaccinated as long as they comply with federal laws that prohibit on the basis of religion and disability. This means that, under federal law, your employer can require the COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of employment. Refusal of the COVID-19 vaccine without a valid legal reason, can result in termination.
If you have a valid legal reason, like a religious belief or disability, your employer will determine if you pose a direct threat to the health and safety of other employees. If so, your employer should provide you with an accommodation, like allowing you to work from home. However, if your employer can show that providing you with an accommodation causes undue hardship on the company, they still may be able to terminate your employment.
State Employment Laws
Over 40 states are considering legislation intended to prevent employers from requiring the COVID-19 vaccine. Some states are considering prohibiting employers from mandating vaccines outright, others recommend requiring it for medical professions only and others preventing employers from taking adverse action against employees who refuse the vaccine. There is no universal state law, so you will have to refer to your specific state legislation for information. Husch Blackwell, a national law firm, has provided updates on the legislation in each state: 50-state Update on Pending Legislation Pertaining to Employer-mandated Vaccinations.
What Can Be Done
If you do not have a valid legal reason and your employer is mandating the COVID-19 vaccine, you should address your concerns with your employer. If you are a valued employee, your employer may work with you to provide an accommodation. Recommend working remotely, workspace separate from employees or alternative hours. If you lie to your employer, and you are terminated, you may have a hard time getting a good reference.
This article is intended for informational purposes only. It provides general information and is not intended and should not be construed as professional advice. The author is not your attorney, accountant, financial planner or any other professional and no professional-client relationship is created. We do not represent that the information provided is accurate or up-to-date as laws and regulations are always changing. If you have an issue that requires professional help, you should contact the appropriate professional to help you on your specific set of facts. Please read the Terms and Conditions for additional information.