Employers Require Workers to Get Vaccine

Employers Can Require Workers to Get Vaccine

The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said employees could be barred from the workplace if they refused the vaccine.

The administration of a Covid-19 vaccine by an employer doesn’t run afoul of the Americans With Disabilities Act, a federal agency said.

Employers can require workers to get a Covid-19 vaccine and bar them from the workplace if they refuse, the federal government said in guidelines issued this week.

Public health experts see employers as playing an important role in vaccinating enough people to reach herd immunity and get a handle on a pandemic that has killed more than 300,000 Americans. Widespread coronavirus vaccinations would keep people from dying, restart the economy and usher a return to some form of normalcy, experts say.

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Employers Can Require Workers to Get Covid-19 Vaccine

Employers had been waiting for guidance from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency that enforces laws against workplace discrimination, because requiring employees be tested for the coronavirus touches on thorny medical and privacy issues covered by the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990.

The guidance, issued on Wednesday, confirmed what employment lawyers had expected.

Businesses and employers are uniquely positioned to require large numbers of Americans who otherwise would not receive a vaccination to do so because their employment depends on it.

The disabilities act limits employers’ ability to require medical examinations like blood tests, breath analyses and blood-pressure screening. These are procedures or tests, often given in a medical setting, that seek information about an employee’s physical or mental conditions.

The administration of a Covid-19 vaccine to a worker by an employer doesn’t fit that definition, the commission said.

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“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,” it stated, “and, therefore, it is not a medical examination.”

On its website, the commission said that requiring an employee to show proof of having gotten a Covid-19 vaccination would not amount to a disability-related inquiry.