VAX_JOB_PASS

Explainer

COVID-19: Can employers require workers to get vaccinated?

By Gwen Baumgardner

Generally speaking, employers can require workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19. But caveats to those requirements exist.

GWEN BAUMGARDENER, REPORTER: BY NOW YOU’VE PROBABLY HEARD ALL THE TALK AND CONTROVERSY ABOUT THE COVID 19 VACCINE PASSPORTS. 

THAT KIND OF THING WOULD DEFINITELY IMPACT OUR FUTURE TRAVEL PLANS. BUT WHAT IF YOUR BOSS REQUIRES A VAX CARD FOR YOU TO GO TO WORK?  THAT GOT US WONDERING…COULD YOU BE FIRED IF YOU REFUSE TO TAKE THE COVID VACCINE? 

LET’S GET THIS STRAIGHT.

THERE’S A LOT OF NUANCE HERE, SO WE CREATED A LITTLE QUIZ TO HELP MAKE SENSE OF IT ALL. 

FIRST QUESTION…CAN YOUR COMPANY REQUIRE YOU TO GET A VACCINE?

THE SHORT ANSWER…YES. IF YOUR COMPANY CAN REQUIRE A DRESS CODE, THEN ITS NOT SURPRISING THEY CAN REQUIRE A HEALTH CODE.  

SECOND QUESTION…A VACCINE IS PERSONAL MEDICAL INFORMATION, SO CAN YOUR BOSS EVEN ASK IF YOU’VE HAD ONE? 

YES! 

IT’S TRUE. IN MOST CASES, COMPANIES CAN’T ASK FOR YOUR MEDICAL HISTORY. BUT JUST LIKE REQUIRING A DOCTOR’S NOTE WHEN YOU’RE SICK, THEY CAN ALSO ASK FOR PROOF OF VACCINATION.

QUESTION THREE…WHAT IF YOU HAVE A MEDICAL OR RELIGIOUS EXEMPTION. CAN IT STILL BE REQUIRED?

ANSWER…SOMETIMES. COMPANIES MUST DO EVERYTHING THEY CAN TO ACCOMMODATE WORKERS WITH RELIGIOUS OR MEDICAL EXEMPTIONS.  THEY CAN’T DISCRIMINATE. IT’S FEDERAL LAW. BUT IF THEY CAN’T ACCOMMODATE YOU, THEN IT’S STILL REQUIRED.

NEXT QUESTION…WHAT GIVES A COMPANY THE LEGAL POWER TO ENFORCE A VAX PASSPORT? 

ANSWER…IT’S THE LAW. THE AMERICAN DISABILITIES ACT STATES: “AN INDIVIDUAL SHALL NOT POSE A DIRECT THREAT TO THE HEALTH OR SAFETY OF INDIVIDUALS IN THE WORKPLACE.” FOR SOME BUSINESSES, UNVACCINATED EMPLOYEES MEAN UNSAFE EMPLOYEES.

CAN YOU BE FIRED IF YOUR COMPANY REQUIRES THE VACCINE AND YOU DON’T GET IT? THE SHORT ANSWER IS YES. WITH ONE CAVEAT.

UNTIL THE VACCINES ARE FDA LICENSED, YOU CAN’T BE REQUIRED TO GET IT.  COVID VACCINES ARE INITIALLY BEING USED UNDER THE EMERGENCY USE ACT FOR NOW SO COMPANIES CAN’T FORCE YOU TO GET THEM.

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Generally speaking, employers can require workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19. But caveats to those requirements exist.