Are Coronavirus Vaccination Requirements For Workers Lawful?

Nikki Attkisson | Last Updated : August 4, 2021

Because vaccinations frequency in the United States is insufficient to protect against the delta coronavirus variety, numerous parties, such as the federal govt., are requiring vaccines for their employees. As some, this raises the issue of legality.

“The starting point for this is that employers, private or public, have both the right to set workplace conditions and a duty to provide a safe workplace for the employees,” says Dorit Reiss, a professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law.

Some businesses that had required staff to be immunized have provided options such as quarterly tests for individuals who refuse to be immunized in the hopes that the additional hassles may persuade vaccination skeptics to take the injection. 

Are Coronavirus Vaccination Requirements For Workers Lawful?

To counter the spread of the virus and especially delta variant it is considered as much necessary to have the vaccination. However, those who are vaccinated can easily counter this new variant also which can help them stay ahead. The vaccine is required for almost every adult in almost all regions. However, in many cases, people do not prefer to go for the vaccine which is a different story. 

Are Coronavirus Vaccination Requirements For Workers Lawful?

“I think that it would be legal even if employers didn’t offer that opt-out, but offering it certainly makes things easier because then they don’t have to deal with individual requests for disability accommodations and religious accommodations and so forth that they would have had to otherwise,” says Kevin Cope, an associate professor at the University of Virginia School of Law.

The Commerce Administration has issued an advisory indicating that national laws would not prevent corporations from demanding immunizations, particularly when the vaccinations having just received given urgent usage authorization by the FDA and had not yet obtained final FDA approval. 

The pertinent portion of the Health, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, it noted, only addresses “only the provision of information to potential vaccine recipients and does not prohibit public or private entities from imposing vaccination requirements for a vaccine that is subject to an emergency use authorization.”

Government rules barring employment harassment “do not prevent an employer from requiring all employees physically entering the workplace to be vaccinated for COVID-19” according to previous guidelines from the federal Equal Economic Opportunities Committee.

“I think whether you can mandate the vaccine under a EUA there are more and more reasons to think that, yes, you can. But there’s still some uncertainty,” Reiss says.

However, if the FDA gives its complete permission many firms may feel safe implementing vaccination requirements.

“Those who want to compel or mandate employees to take it will be on an even stronger legal footing,” Cope says, adding that they might also be on “stronger political footing,” because some people who oppose vaccination cite the absence of full FDA approval for the doses.

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When healthcare employees appealed the restrictions, a state trial judge in Texas ruled in June that the Houston Methodist Hospital’s vaccination demand is in keeping with policymaking.

“I expect we will see more legal challenges,” Reiss predicts. However, she adds that the EEOC’s guidance and the Texas verdict are “clearly worded and compelling, making future cases more difficult to win.

Vaccination policies have already been introduced by commercial firms such as Google and Facebook for worker’s return to work. Nevertheless, the procedures for enforcing those rules were still unknown. Many employers may only ask workers to swear that they have been immunized, while others may demand evidence.

“I think whether we’ll see more mandates will depend on what the softer mandates do because remember the cost to mandating you have to enforce it means that you may lose qualified people,” she says.

Nikki Attkisson

With over 15 years as a practicing journalist, Nikki Attkisson found herself at Powdersville Post now after working at several other publications. She is an award-winning journalist with an entrepreneurial spirit and worked as a journalist covering technology, innovation, environmental issues, politics, health etc. Nikki Attkisson has also worked on product development, content strategy, and editorial management for numerous media companies. She began her career at local news stations and worked as a reporter in national newspapers.

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