Many health care providers and long-term care facilities are starting to receive the first doses of COVID-19 vaccines. However, almost half of the public remains hesitant about getting vaccinated, saying they probably or definitely will not get the COVID-19 vaccine even if it is free and deemed safe.
As a result, many employers are considering legally requiring employees to receive the vaccine. This is certainly a possibility. Schmidt Kramer Partner Scott Cooper shared his insights with Local 21 News. If mandated, an employee who refuses to get vaccinated could potentially be let go.
Certain employment laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Title VII of The Civil Rights Act of 1964, provide the right for employers to require their employees to get vaccinated, but exemptions do exist. “If someone could prove that there’s a religious exemption or that they have some medical condition like an allergy,” Cooper said.
For instance, an employer that is subject to the ADA may need to offer reasonable accommodations to an employee with a disability that prevents him or her from getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Employers that are subject to Title VII may also need to reasonably accommodate any employee who notifies them that his or her religious beliefs prevent them from getting vaccinated.
Employers have a few options to consider, such as mandating the vaccination for all employees, only requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for employees not working remotely or cannot socially distance at work or encouraging their employees to get the vaccine for free instead of making it a legal requirement.
While there are some things that employers can do to protect themselves in these situations, according to Cooper, an employee who decides not to get vaccinated may not be able to obtain worker’s compensation coverage.