With COVID-19 vaccination rates increasing and cases trending downwards recently, the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel is getting brighter. Many New Yorkers are eager to return to a pre-pandemic lifestyle. However, not everything will look the same.
For instance, your employer could require you to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before returning to work.
EEOC weighs in on mandatory vaccinations
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently provided vaccination guidance for employers across the U.S. The agency said that employers can require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
However, employers requiring vaccinations must also provide reasonable accommodations for workers who cannot or do not get vaccinated.
Employers administering a policy mandating vaccination must carry it out fairly. This means refraining from discriminating against workers with religious beliefs or disabilities that prevent them from complying with the mandate.
Further, employers are allowed to incentivize vaccinations, but efforts to incentivize employees to be vaccinated cannot be coercive.
Protecting your rights
So far, most employers do not require employees to be vaccinated. However, these numbers could start increasing in light of the EEOC comments and future approvals from the Food and Drug Administration.
Therefore, employees may already be worried they will be victims of discrimination or retaliation due to their ability to be vaccinated if an employer chooses to mandate vaccines.
This situation is proving to be more complicated than people might have expected. It touches on people’s medical status, public health, and individual views on privacy and personal freedoms.
Thus, mandating vaccines is not a decision employers are making lightly at this time. Many are rightfully worried about enforcing the policy and what they must do in terms of providing accommodations. Until employers are clear on these issues, they may not be ready to mandate vaccines.
Having said all that, employers who move forward with requiring employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 can be held accountable for any decision or policy that violates workers’ rights. Should these issues arise, employees should discuss their legal rights and the remedies available with an attorney.