Colby Law Firm: 'There Are Limits for Employer Vaccination Demands on Workers'

In the week since U.S. President Joe Biden vented his frustrations at the 80 million Americans who are yet to be vaccinated. The Labor Department is developing a rule forcing employers with more than 100 workers to ensure their workforce gets vaccinated.

Los Angeles employment lawyers at Colby Law Firm agree that there is a basis for President Biden's mandate, but there are nuances and parameters for employer vaccination demands on workers. 

Can The Government Issue The Rule?

Looking at history, vaccine mandates are constitutional. According to Vox, the Supreme Court upheld a local health board's decision "to mandate smallpox vaccinations in Jacobson v. Massachusetts (1905)." 

Further, States usually require most school-age children to receive a long list of vaccines like hepatitis B, measles, rubella, varicella, diphtheria, and meningitis, so they can attend classes.

In a workplace context, Colby Law Firm employment lawyers say that the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 similarly "allows the secretary of labor to apply an emergency temporary standard if workers are in contact with harmful agents, in this case, the COVID-19 virus."

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reaffirmed on May 28 that a vaccination requirement from U.S. employers would not violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 

"If a vaccine is administered to an employee by an employer for protection against contracting COVID-19, the employer is not seeking information about an individual's impairments or current health status and, therefore, it is not a medical examination," said the Commission.

How Far Can They Go?

Still, as the prospect of Biden's initiative regarding the vaccine, employees already wonder how far companies can go.

Aaron Colby, at Colby Law Firm says there are two grounds for vaccine objection, based on the limits imposed by the ADA and the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on health and safety work conditions. 

The first one is to seek a vaccine exemption on medical grounds. "Usually, medical exemptions are acceptable grounds not to administer a medication - known as contraindications cited by the FDA with guidance from the CDC."

"In this sense, workers should demonstrate and show medical proof of allergic reactions to any of the vaccine components, many of them listed by the CDC."

The next lawful objection is by way of religious belief. As reported by the New York Times, United Airlines Holdings Inc told workers that those who receive religious exemptions will be placed on unpaid leave "at least until new COVID safety and testing procedures are in place."

In this sense, employment lawyers at Colby Law Firm say, "workers can object to the vaccine based on sincerely held religious beliefs that stem from the First Amendment's freedom of religion." 

However - the experts say - with what is a stake, employers will surely thoroughly analyze exemption requests when there is enough doubt. "Religious exemptions are not always straightforward, so companies will likely examine them in detail."

Source: Colby Law Firm

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Tags: Covid-19 Vaccination, Law Firms, Law News