Can Employers Require Employees To Get Vaccinated? Plus, Answers To Other Legal Questions As We Return To The Office
July 20, 2021
As many companies begin to reopen offices and bring employees back in, many are requiring that employees be fully vaccinated. But can companies actually require that of their employees from a legal standpoint? And what legal pitfalls do employers need to be aware of while navigating this tumultuous time?
Worth sat down with Domenique Camacho Moran, partner in the labor and employment practice of New York-based law firm Farrell Fritz, to discuss if employers can legally require their employees to get vaccinated, if employers can legally penalize an employee for not doing so and the biggest workplace health issue that has arisen during this time.
Q: Let’s start with the biggest question here, and that is, can employers legally require their employees to be fully vaccinated before returning to the office, and is it lawful for employers to implement a penalty if they don’t comply?
A: Yes, employers can legally require employees to be fully vaccinated with the caveat that they will have to provide a reasonable accommodation to those who cannot be vaccinated due to a disability or a sincerely held religious belief. In those circumstances, the employer is required under the law to engage in an interactive dialogue with the employee to determine if there is a reasonable accommodation that can be granted in lieu of full vaccination.
As for a penalty, employers can adopt a mandatory vaccination policy and separate those who choose not to comply as long as those employers offer to reasonably accommodate employees who are not vaccinated because of a disability or sincerely held religious belief.
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